The dog tag in the photo was most likely made for provocation purposes. First, this token differs significantly from the model approved by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Secondly, even if we assume that this badge was custom-made by a private company, none of the variants available on the Ukrainian market indicate the date of entry into service. This information will not help to identify the owner of the badge, but in this case plays an important role of disinformation. As a reminder, only an adult can join the Armed Forces of Ukraine: the minimum conscription age in Ukraine is 27 years, and the category of people aged 18 to 27 can join the army only of their own free will by signing a contract.

“Zelenskyy is already sending children into battle,” is the headline of a girl’s dog tag photo. She was allegedly killed in action. The token indicates that its owner was allegedly born in May 2006, meaning that she would have turned 17 today.  

“Zelenskyy, Syrskyi and other representatives of the junta killed the underage girl. And they will be held accountable for this,” the media says.

This photo was first published on the Krylatye Telegram channel on February 29, 2024. The channel description states that it is the main channel of the Russian airborne troops. The post states that during the fighting in the Zaporizhzhia sector, a badge was allegedly removed from the enemy’s body, which indicated that its owner was an underage girl born in 2006. Some posts say that she was an infantry rifleman in one of the Ukrainian units. 

In addition to the date of birth and blood type, the badge probably contains the date of enlistment – July 2022. That is, the girl would have just turned 16 at that time. 

Most likely, this photo is being spread for the purpose of provocation. This is evidenced by several facts.

To begin with, most armies in the world use dog tags to identify soldiers, keep track of their numbers, and to identify those killed and wounded in combat. Ukraine is no exception. The procedure for assigning personal numbers to military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and for obtaining identification badges is set out in the Instruction on the organization of personnel records in the system of the Ukraine Defense Ministry. According to this instruction, all servicemen and women in military service and persons liable for military service in the reserve are assigned personal numbers engraved on a steel identification badge. 

The identification badge shall contain the surname, name, patronymic of the serviceman, his or her blood type, Rh factor and personal number assigned in accordance with his registration number, as well as the name of the state and its military formation in which the serviceman is performing military service. The personal number of a serviceman of the Ukraine Armed Forces corresponds to the registration number of the taxpayer’s account, which is provided to every citizen of Ukraine.

The Instruction also contains a specific description of this token:

Although Ukraine has ratified the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of War Victims of August 12, 1949, which provides for the mandatory wearing of identification badges, the actual implementation of this system was only discussed after the outbreak of the war in Donbas in 2014. Despite the existence of the Instruction, which states that identification badges, together with the soldier’s identity documents, should be issued by the military unit, this practice is not widespread and is only a personal initiative of individual soldiers.

It is easy to see that the badge’s photo differs significantly from the badge approved by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. Firstly, the badge does not have a military identification number, but instead has the date of enlistment. Secondly, the required data is arranged in the wrong order.

Assuming that this badge could have been custom-made by a private company, StopFake journalists checked the options on the market. However, none of the variants showed the date of enlistment. Military badges from other countries also lack this information. Depending on national regulations, badges may contain additional information such as blood type, religion, gas mask size, etc. The date of enlistment is unlikely to help identify a person, but it is very important for propagandists, as they use this information to prove that minors are allegedly fighting in the Ukrainian army. 

Kremlin propaganda regularly spreads disinformation that minors and people with disabilities are allegedly fighting in the Ukrainian army on a massive scale due to the mobilization shortage. StopFake journalists have previously analyzed this narrative in detail in the pieces Fake: Minors are Fighting in Ukrainian Army, Fake: Teenager Mobilized from Orphanage Died, Fake: Recruitment Center in Poltava Forged Minor’s Documents to Enlist Him and Manipulation: West Forces Ukraine to Conscript Teenagers. The information that minors can fight in the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces contradicts Ukrainian law. Currently, the minimum conscription age in Ukraine is 27 years. Persons between the ages of 18 and 27 fall under the category of conscripts, which is military service for which conscription is not conducted during martial law. They can join the army only of their own free will by signing a contract with the Armed Forces
In addition, there is no mandatory mobilization of women in Ukraine. They can only become a soldier voluntarily. See StopFake’s analysis of similar narratives: Fake: Ukraine Created Bulletproof Vests for Pregnant Women and Fake: Ukraine Actively Recruits Female Chemists and Biologists.