The photos, taken in Ekaterinburg's metro, feature contract troops from the Central Military District posing in full combat gear, assault rifles and all, accompanied by graceful ballerinas from a local dance collective.
The unusual combination of two highly contrasting traditional symbols of masculinity and femininity, along with the sleek and ultra-modernistic background of the metro station, left few indifferent online, with commenters debating the thinking behind the idea.
"Good for them, it turned out very beautifully!" one user wrote. "Surrealism in all its glory," another added. "Cool! Strength and tenderness! Courage and femininity!" a third chimed in. "Beauty is a terrible force!" another wrote, quoting legendary Soviet actress Faina Ranevskaya.
One user recalled the March 8 holiday's historical origins as a celebration of the fight for equality between the sexes, and criticised the photo set's "Strength of a man and tenderness and love of a woman" slogan. "International Women's Day is not about 'tenderness' or 'love'. Next year, do a photo set of Russian servicewomen in the same gear – now that would really be relevant and really cool," the user suggested.