From a widely-shared Reddit post:

Ukrainian children trained to use rifles against Russian soldiers 1/3

Ukrainian children trained to use rifles against Russian soldiers

The other photos in the post are shown below.

Photo 2/3

Photo 3/3

Neither the post nor the comments provide a source. Reverse image search turns up similar photos and headlines at The Sun and The Times, but neither includes a source.

Are these photos of Ukrainian children being trained to fight Russian soldiers authentic? Or is something else going on here?

  • 9
    that specific photo is certainly not of childREN, there's only a single child in it (and that one might be an exceptionally small adult).
    – jwenting
    Feb 2, 2022 at 12:33
  • 3
    Not even "exceptionally small." Standing further back (which she is) and lower, would make her look smaller and shorter. The photo looks to be framed specifically around her. If you look at the line of 3 hats from top left, hers is only slightly lower. Feb 2, 2022 at 13:29
  • 24
    The "against russian soldiers" part is completely pointless. there's people learning to handle a rifle, "against" nobody. But if Russia decides to invade, then they will (probably) use that training, but the training is not specifically "against russian soldiers"
    – Federico
    Feb 2, 2022 at 16:32
  • 6
    @Federico This is Skeptics where we get lots of fakes. This could be a repurposed photo of actual Ukrainians, but training to be movie extras, or they're a pro-Russian group. "Against russian soldiers" seems like a decent way of ruling out fakery. Feb 2, 2022 at 17:06
  • 3
    @OwenReynolds I think it could be done equally as well without
    – Federico
    Feb 2, 2022 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


This answer talks about two Ukrainian photojournalists, both called Sergei: Sergei Supinsky and Sergei Dolzhenko.

Both of them photographed the training event in Ukraine.

Supinsky's photos are available from Getty images where they are described as:

TOPSHOT - A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, as they take part in a training session at an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on January 30, 2022. - As fears grow of a potential invasion by Russian troops massed on Ukraine's border, within the framework of the training there were classes on tactics, paramedics, training on the obstacle course. The training is conducted by instructors with combat experience, members of the public initiative "Total Resistance".

Dolzhenko's photos are available from the European Pressphoto Agency, where they are described as:

Open military exercise for civilians in Kiev

Ukrainians attend an open military training for civilians on a training range in Kiev, Ukraine, 30 January 2022. [...]

Neither explicitly mentions schoolchildren, although some of the subjects are clearly school-aged.

Picture including child

As tensions between Russia and Ukraine are high, we might expect to see propaganda from each side. It would be well to consider the propaganda and military recruiting value of such a training day, compared to how much more effective it made the participants in any combat situations.

(Hat tip to pinegulf's answer, which introduced me to Supinsky. I was going to make a minor edit, to add a link to Dolzhenko's photos, got confused by the surname mismatch, and decided it should be a separate answer.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 3, 2022 at 9:26
  • 1
    Answer missing a "Yes" or "No" (or even "maybe") so I don't understand it. Feb 14, 2022 at 9:51
  • I don't think it's particularly problematic to provide a nuanced answer to a question which is less so. Quite the opposite, actually. The facts are what they are and the subjective aspects of the question are best left to the reader to mull over.
    – tripleee
    Feb 14, 2022 at 9:56


As far as I can tell. More similar images hosted by Yahoo news.

My local news hosted one of these pictures. Second article. Both credit the figure to SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP. Search on him seem to indicate journalistic action. Ref: Kyivpost and correspondent.afp.com.

Whether these are schoolchildren or not might be in question. Sources state (freely translated) 'Ukrainian civilians being instructed...' The young looking persons with wooden guns and instructed by people with persons in military apparel can be observed.

  • 9
    @WeatherVane Most Q's on Skeptics involve complete frauds -- like those photos are stolen from a 20-year-old French movie. This answer is good since it verifies "yes, they are recent, are from Ukraine, and are actually military training". To verify the children part would require access to a sign-in sheet or something. Feb 2, 2022 at 16:57
  • 4
    @OwenReynolds I don't see any "military training" but some people posing for photos. OP has added some more photos to the question, which were shown up in answers. This answer only seems to repeat what the question states. Feb 2, 2022 at 17:28
  • 2
    @WeatherVane I would think that the important question is whether these civilians are being trained specifically to fight the Russian army.
    – terdon
    Feb 3, 2022 at 14:33
  • 1
    @terdon it is? In my mind, since Russia invaded Crimea (part of Ukraine) in 2014, there is an ongoing conflict with Russia, and a build-up of its military forces near the border, there is no doubt that it won't be Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania or Moldova. Feb 3, 2022 at 15:27
  • 2
    @terdon not to me: I find nothing skeptical at all about Ukraine preparing for a conflict with Russia, not so for its other neighbours. Rather the opposite, I would find a report like "Ukraine oblivious to moves by Russia" to be unbelievable. Feb 3, 2022 at 16:55

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