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Photos: In Ukraine, it’s not just soldiers training for war


Civilians use wooden mock rifles as they learn combat tactics in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, January 30.

Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN

Updated 3:29 PM ET, Tue February 1, 2022

Civilians use wooden mock rifles as they learn combat tactics in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, January 30.

Timothy Fadek/Redux for CNN

With the looming threat of a Russian invasion, more Ukrainians are taking up arms and learning how to fight.

In Kharkiv, 25 miles from the Russian border, new reservists began their military training on Saturday. Approximately 150 volunteers learned rifle skills and survival techniques as they joined one of Ukraine’s many Territorial Defense Forces.

Further west, in the capital of Kyiv, local civilians were taught similar skills Sunday in case war breaks out. This group of about 50 included a wider cross section of people, including women and older men.

The people in Kyiv may have looked different than those in Kharkiv, but they shared a “steely determination,” photographer Timothy Fadek said.

“There’s not a single person who seems to waver on this issue, and I’ve spoken to many people when I was in both groups both days: They said, ‘We’re going to defend Ukraine to the death.’ Every single one of them,” Fadek said.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with a Russian troop buildup at the border spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion.

Russia has denied that it is planning to attack, arguing that NATO support for Ukraine constitutes a growing threat on Russia’s western flank. But many Ukrainians are not taking any chances, and they’re gathering in below-freezing temperatures to train. Many of them had never held a weapon before.

“One woman I spoke to, she was holding a wooden cutout in the shape of an AK-47 when she told me, ‘There’s no way I’m going to let Kyiv fall to the Russians.’ ” Fadek said.


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