Lilya Tymoshenko is co-founder and NGO Director at Dattalion, an organisation which shares genuine photos and video footage from the frontlines in Ukraine. Ms Tymoshenko told Express.co.uk the initiative is run mainly by women – mostly mothers and wives.
She said the idea for Dattalion came about on February 27 following the start of Russia’s invasion just days earlier. She fears there was an impression in the West, particularly in the USA, that Ukraine stood no chance against Russia, and would fall in just three days.
Foreigners began writing to Ms Tymoshenko and co-founder Nataliya Mykolska to ask what was happening on the ground. In a bid to show Ukraine’s fierce resistance to the invasion, they began sharing videos and photos of frontline combat to make it clear that Ukraine would not be easily conquered.
The project claims to be the largest free and independent open-source database of photos and videos in Ukraine, and aims to spread the truth about the horrors of Russia’s invasion there.
Ms Tymoshenko said: “Dattalion is like the Ukrainian data-battalion. It’s a project that is founded and run by Ukrainian women, many of them mothers and wives, and supported by international volunteers.
“Dattalion is home to the largest free and independent open source, aggregated database of photos and video footage from the war – from hotspots. As well as a database of verified eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Russian invasion.”
She added how the organisation has made the media easy to find for the foreign press, with an eye towards spreading the word on what’s happening in Ukraine.
Most of Dattalion’s volunteers are women, many of them mothers and wives.
Although plenty of Ukrainian women fight on the frontlines, many stayed behind to help with logistics and support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the rear.
International volunteers from across the world also lend a hand in supporting the initiative.
Ms Tymoshenko said: “We have more than 100 volunteers and 98 percent of them are women – mostly because our men are fighting on the frontline. Forty eight percent of the women of Dattalion are in Ukraine.”
Some Dattalion volunteers also help with transporting aid, food and weapons around the country.
She added: “Here in Ukraine, you cannot be a volunteer for just one organisation. Everybody was doing all things possible, non-stop 24/7.”
After the initial launch of Dattalion, the organisation grew as people became hungry for open-source information straight from the front. The site now has millions of users and hosts thousands of photos and videos.
Ms Tymoshenko said: “Now we have more than 3.2 million organic impressions. We are satisfied with this number – not happy because the initiative was started as a result of the war.
“We have more than 12,000 photos and videos in our database.”
The group is currently working to create a database of verified eyewitness testimonies, especially from those who speak English.
The news comes as more than 40 countries have pledged support to investigate allegations of Russian war crimes on the ground in Ukraine.
Large caches of photos and videos documenting the horrors of the war are likely to become more important than ever before in the coming months and years as nations attempt to hold Putin and his forces accountable for any atrocities committed in Ukraine.