Faced with the Russian threat, Ukrainians learn survival and self-defense techniques

A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, during a training session in an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

In a neighborhood of Kiev, some 300 people participated this Sunday in a military training on the site of an abandoned factory in fear of a invasion by Russiawhich concentrated some 100,000 soldiers on the border.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
The training is carried out by instructors with combat experience, members of the public initiative “Total Resistance” (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

Organized by a nationalist party created by former volunteers who have fought separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014, this activity is called “Instead of panicking, prepare yourself.”

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
The participants, especially young people, but also entire families, learned how to hold and handle a weapon using wooden replica Kalashnikov rifles (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

“Panic can happen when people don’t know how to react, how to use a weapon, how to defend themselves, what to do in the event of a shooting”explained Maxim Jorinformer commander of the controversial battalion Azovby welcoming the participants who formed lines under the snowflakes.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
As part of the training there were classes on tactics, paramedics, obstacle course training (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

In small groups, the participants, especially young people, but also entire families, they learned how to hold and handle a gun using replicas of wooden kalashnikov rifles.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
In a ruined building, instructors showed how to move inside a building taken over by the enemy (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

They also received first aid training and, in a ruined buildingThey showed them how to move inside a building taken over by the enemy.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
Many young people and families participated in the training (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

“The left leg is again misplaced!” snaps an instructor to a young man who is learning to handle a gun in his hands.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
The instructors are part of the controversial Azov battalion, which fought against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

“It’s my country, how can I not worry?”explains to the agency AFP Yevgeny Petrik, 20 years old. Does he believe in an upcoming Russian invasion? “Likely or not, I am not the one to judge it, I am not a fortune teller. But, you have to be prepared”apostille.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
An instructor teaches how to hold a rifle (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (SERGEI SUPINSKY /)

Survival techniques

In a forest outside of Kiev, a group of Ukrainian civilians learn how to dig shelters in the snow.

“If Russia attacks, it is very important to know these techniques”, summarizes Artem Kuzmenko, a 29-year-old computer scientist, who is taking part in a two-day survival course.

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Survival techniques are key to face combat in the harsh Ukrainian winter (GENYA SAVILOV / AFP) (GENYA SAVILOV /)

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, is used to war.

Since 2014 fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country in a conflict that has already left more than 13,000 dead.

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The courses arouse more and more interest, as fears of an invasion are growing (GENYA SAVILOV / AFP) (GENYA SAVILOV /)

Despite the signing of peace agreements, the violence never completely ceased on the front. The West accuses Russia of wanting to invade Ukraine, a charge that Moscow rejects.

“In big cities, people are used to conflicts taking place far away”points out the instructor, Sergei Vishnevski, dressed in military uniform.

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An online training that instructor Sergei Vishnevski will provide in the coming days has already received some 4,000 registrations (GENYA SAVILOV / AFP) (GENYA SAVILOV /)

“Now they are aware that the war can reach them“, Add.

Vishnevsky, 40, he fought on the front lines before giving these civilian survival courses.

It has seen renewed interest in recent weeks as fears of an invasion grow.

An online training that will be provided in the coming days It has already received some 4,000 registrations.

“Everyone should know how to build a shelter for their family,” considers.

Ukraine crisis - war - defense
48% of Ukrainians believe that a Russian invasion is possible and a growing contingent of trainers prepares them for the worst (GENYA SAVILOV / AFP) (GENYA SAVILOV /)

Yana Kaminska, a 33-year-old psychology student, doing this training with her partner, She’s already packed a bag in case she has to leave home in a hurry.

“First, take care of our families”, he answers when asked what his priority is in the event of an invasion.


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Civilians learn to build a shelter in a forest on the outskirts of Kiev (GENYA SAVILOV / AFP) (GENYA SAVILOV /)

After years of war often punctuated by fears of a full-scale Russian invasion, Kiev shows no signs of panic despite alarmist statements from some Western capitals.

Stores show no signs of shortagewhich happens when people stock up to the max, and there were a lot of pedestrians in the city center, covered in a blanket of snow over the weekend.

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Ukrainians say they want to prepare for the “worst case scenario” (GENYA SAVILOV / AFP) (GENYA SAVILOV /)

Even the president himself Volodymyr Zelensky urged the West on Friday to don’t sow “panic”claiming to be more concerned about an internal “destabilization” than about a possible Russian attack.

But, according to a survey published last week, 48% of Ukrainians believe a Russian invasion is possible and a growing contingent of coaches prepares them for the worst.

Ukrainian crisis - war
A serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine takes aim with an anti-aircraft missile launcher during a drill at the firing range of the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.( AFP) (-/)

On the weekend, more than 150 women attended a conference at a Kiev university, where they learned how to neutralize an unarmed assailantpressing certain points on the head or neck.

For Olena Biletskaof the Ukrainian Women’s Guard, at the origin of this initiative, Ukraine must learn to protect itself, it is a matter of “personal responsibility”. Adding that he had to turn down potential participants due to anti-covid restrictions.

Among the crowd, Oleksandra Kovalenko, 25, explains that she wants to prepare “For the worst case scenario. An attack is really possible.”

(With information from AFP)

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