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Teenagers join fight against Russian forces after basic training, Ukraine had earlier provided ‘military’ training to children: Details

The teenager recruits were then issued military-grade body armour, uniforms, helmets and infantry kneepads. Dmytro said jokingly, "I got used to my gun. I learned how to shoot and how to act in the battle, also many other things that will be very crucial in the fight with the Russians."

Amidst the ongoing conflict with Russia, teenagers in Ukraine are ‘voluntarily’ taking up arms to defend the Ukrainian city of Kyiv.

As per a report published by the BBC, a group of young boys, who were just out of school, underwent three days of basic military training and headed for the war zone.

One of the teenagers who had volunteered to fight for Ukraine was a 19-year-old Maksym Lutsyk. He was joined by his 18-year-old friend Dmytro Kisilenko. They were both students prior to taking up arms.

Lutsyk told the BBC that he was trained in weaponry and backwoods skills while serving 5 years in the Scouts. Besides the duo, several others had come to the training centre on their own accord.

“When they waited outside for the bus that was going to be taking them to the training base, they looked like friends on the way to a festival – apart from the guns. Each had been given custody of a Kalashnikov assault rifle,” reported BBC.

The teenager recruits were then issued military-grade body armour, uniforms, helmets and infantry kneepads. Dmytro said jokingly, “I got used to my gun. I learned how to shoot and how to act in the battle, also many other things that will be very crucial in the fight with the Russians.”

He conceded that if Russian forces successfully breach Kyiv, the Ukrainian army might have to surrender and the war would be over. Dmytro informed that his parents are proud of his decision to join the Ukrainian territorial defence force, adding that he was earlier engaged in making Molotov cocktails.

The teenager remarked, “…It is human nature to feel scared, and of course deeply in my soul I feel a bit scared, as no one wants to die, even if it’s for your country. So, death is not an option for us.”

On the other hand, his friend Maksym did not inform his mother about his decision to volunteer in the war out of the fear of worrying her. He said that he hoped to see Ukraine’s flag flying in the Russian Federation.

“I feel much more confident than I was before, because we get enough knowledge in tactics, in martial arts, in tactical medicine and in how to do something on the battlefield,” he emphasised.

The BBC report concluded, “The professional army is a couple of miles ahead (from the checkpoint where teenager volunteers are stationed), directly facing the Russians. But if the Russians come, like all the volunteers, Maksym and Dmytro will be firing out of the trenches they helped dig into the surrounding ground, where boxes of Molotov cocktails are waiting.”

Ukraine and its ‘child soldier’ problem

Earlier, several videos had surfaced on social media where children as young as 8 were heard giving calls for defending Ukraine. One such video was posted by popular Twitter user, Red Bait (@red_baiting).

“My father Stephan Baida is a defender of Mariupol. In 2014, he liberated Marinka, Shirokino and Mariupol and now he is defending Mariupol till the last. I am 8. That’s how much my father is fighting,” the child ‘soldier’ was heard as saying.

He called upon all Ukrainians and Europeans to defend the city of Mariupol, which is located in the Eastern part of the country. “Give them weapons, close the sky! Mariupol is Ukraine. Ukraine is me,” the minor boy announced.

The problem with Ukraine’s child soldiers is not new. Eighteen-year-old Yaroslav Hrytsiuk, who returned from Canada to fight for his home country Ukraine, had confessed about receiving military training in high school.

“Born in Ukraine in 2004, Mr Hrytsiuk said he has been battle-trained. He learned how to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and bayonet knives as a younger teenager in Ukraine before he came to Canada in 2021 to stay with relatives and pursue a better education,” reported The Globe and Mail.

Prior to the breakout of the full-fledged war, The Daily Mail had reported on February 5 as to how Ukraine had placed school children, including 4-year-olds, in military training camps in the hopes of thwarting a Russian invasion. The children were trained either with wooden replicas of Ak-47 or with live rounds.

While speaking about providing military training to her two 4-year-old sons Taras and Bohdan, their 35-year-old mother had remarked, “I don’t think they understand the war and what is happening but they love everything to do with the military. If they want to be soldiers when they grow up and fight to defend their homeland I will not stop them.”

In January, The Sun had reported how the Ukrainian military conducted training for young children.

Military training to a minor child by the Ukrainian military, image via The Sun

The article read, “CHILDREN get to grips with guns as they prepare to defend their country from a looming invasion threat. Some were shown how to use live weapons yesterday, while others were taught how to hold wooden replicas of Russian Kalashnikov rifles in case they need to use the real thing.”

It further added, “The Ukrainian military held a training day in Kyiv, where civilians of all ages were given expert tips from experienced weapons instructors.”

A day after Russia invaded the Eastern European country, the Official Twitter account of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on February 25 this year called upon civilians, of all ages (including ‘minors’) to join the armed conflict.

Screengrab of the tweet by Defence of Ukraine

“Today, Ukraine needs everything. All procedures for joining are simplified. Bring only your passport and identification number…There are no age restrictions,” read the tweet.

Even in 2014, Ukrainian media were seen hailing a 17-year old boy for working as a sapper for 2 months in a conflict zone. BBC reported, “Speaking from hospital, he told 5 Kanal that he had lied about his age to enlist in a volunteer battalion. But his commander seemed to be aware of how young he was.”

Ukraine has been using child soldiers to fight Russian forces in complete violation of international human rights laws, with the media aggravating the issue with glossy coverage and sensationalisation.

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