Ukrainian Civilians Train With Wooden Guns Ahead of Potential Russian Invasion

“People in the big cities got used to the fact that the conflict was far away from them,” a military instructor said. “Now they realise that the war might come to them.”
Dipo Faloyin
London, GB
A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, during a training session at an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been seen training with wooden weapons as the country faces the prospect of a Russian invasion. 

Volunteers are being trained in freezing cold temperatures by the country’s Territorial Defence Force – the reserve branch of Ukraine’s military that was only established last year. 

A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, as they take part in a training session at an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv

A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, as they take part in a training session at an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

With elite military equipment in short supply, new recruits and civilians are being forced to learn the basics of warfare using makeshift weapons. 

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Volunteers are being taught to defend themselves using wooden replica weapons at training sessions run by the voluntary force. 

Civilians participate in a Kyiv Territorial Defence unit training session on January 29, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine

Civilians participate in a Kyiv Territorial Defence unit training session on January 29, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

“People in the big cities got used to the fact that the conflict was far away from them,” instructor Sergiy Vyshnevsky, 40, told AFP.

“Now they realise that the war might come to them.”

A participant learns how to handle a firearm during an introductory level military and first aid training for civilians by the Azov regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine at their base in Kyiv, Ukraine

A participant learns how to handle a firearm during an introductory level military and first aid training for civilians by the Azov regiment of the National Guard of Ukraine at their base in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Thousands of people have signed up for self-defence courses, both in person and online as the country braces itself for a possible invasion. 

Ukraine’s military estimates that 130,000 Russian troops have gathered on the country’s border. 

A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, during a training session at an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

A military instructor teaches civilians holding wooden replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, during a training session at an abandoned factory in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Photo: SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Undeterred by the might of the Russian military, regular Ukrainian civilians are signing up in large numbers to defend the capital Kyiv and other major cities.

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS