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Ukraine citizens from 79 year-old great grandmother to children take up arms as Russia war fears grow

‘I will defend my home, my city, my children’, says one great-grandmother

Holly Bancroft
Monday 14 February 2022 19:32 GMT
Ukraine Special Forces offer training to civilians

Ukrainian children and grandmothers are preparing for a potential Russian invasion by practicing how to handle guns, alarming pictures show.

Tensions continue to grow as Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops along the Ukraine border despite diplomatic efforts to prevent a potentially deadly conflict.

Ukrainians appear to be preparing themselves for the worst, regardless of their age or military experience.

One 79-year-old great-grandmother even took part in civilian combat training in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, on Sunday.

Valentyna Konstantynovska was taught how to use an AK-47 rifle by the country’s national guard.

She told an NBCnews reporter during the exercise: “Your mother would do it too.

This little boy was seen holding a Kalashnikov

“I am reading to shoot if something happens,” she told reporters. “I will defend my home, my city, my children.

“I will do this because I think I’m ready for it. I don’t want to lose my country, my city.”

But Ms Konstantynovska admitted: “I underwent this training but I probably won’t be a valid soldier because my body doesn’t serve me that much anymore. And the weapon is too heavy for me.”

Some local residents even brought their children with them to learn how to load ammunition

Members of Ukraine’s special forces unit were training residents to assemble and dissemble a hun, load ammunition and aim at targets.

Some parents even brought their children to the training in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

Yelena Piddubna, a local resident, said: “Why have we come with my son? We want to be aware of everything, and I want him to know how to do everything.”

Ukrainians attend an open military training for civilians organized by Right Sector activists in Kiev

At another training session in Kyiv, Mariana Zhaglo, a 52-year-old marketing researcher, said that she was willing to do whatever it takes to defend her country.

The mother-of-three was arming herself with a Zbroyar Z-15 rifle, helmet and camouflage gear.

The training comes as western leaders try and defuse the escalating tensions in Ukraine. German chancellor Olaf Scholz is today in Kyiv for meetings with the Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelensky.

All manner of arms were on display as civilians got to grips with weaponary

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has warned that an invasion of Ukraine could take place within 48 hours as he said the region was entering a “very, very dangerous, difficult situation”.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that diplomatic routes were still open, and the Kremlin said that their concerns would be eased significantly if Ukraine renounced its intention to join the Nato security alliance.

And Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee, urged Britons to leave Ukraine by commercial routes while they still could because of the risk of an “imminent Russian invasion”.

A woman gets to grips with an assault rifle

Russia has accused the UK and US of a propaganda campaign and insisted it was ready to continue talks.

The Prime Minister was receiving a briefing on the latest intelligence from the UK’s spy chiefs and cut short a planned visit to northern England to lead a Cobra meeting on Tuesday.

On a visit to Rosyth shipyard in Scotland, he said: “This is a very, very dangerous, difficult situation, we are on the edge of a precipice but there is still time for President Putin to step back.”

He called for more dialogue and urged Russia to avoid a “disastrous” invasion.

Reports based on US intelligence assessments have suggested an invasion could be launched as soon as Wednesday.

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