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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Training civilians, Ukraine nurtures resistance in wait

KYIV, Ukraine – In a pine forest not far from the capital of Ukraine, a mock fight broke out. The commanders barked orders. Figures in camouflage hid behind trees. A soldier fell to the ground shouting for help.

His cry prompted 25-year-old Anastasia Biloshitska to run to the line of fire, kneel in the mud, and open her medical kit.

“Those who are prepared will not panic,” Ms Biloshitska said.

Ms Biloshitska is one of thousands of Ukrainian citizens who have signed up to learn combat skills in training programs created and run by government and private paramilitary groups. The programs are part of the country’s strategic defense plan in the event of a possible invasion by Russia – to foster a civilian resistance that could continue fighting if Ukrainian forces were overwhelmed.

There is no indication that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has made up his mind to strike. But if one should come, Ukraine’s own generals also say their regular army has little chance of a full offensive.

So Ukraine has taken a lesson from the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades, when guerrillas provided lasting deterrence in the face of vastly superior American firepower.

“We have a strong army, but not strong enough to defend against Russia,” said Marta Yuzkiev, a doctor working in clinical research who signed up for training this month. “If we are captured, and I hope that doesn’t happen, we will become national resistance.”

Government-sponsored training for civilians has underpinned Nordic and Swiss military strategies for decades, and is gaining traction as a military doctrine in Eastern Europe.

Inspired by Russian threats, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all have programs encouraging rifle ownership for some civilians and formal training to fight as partisans after a capture.

Almost every weekend in Estonia, for example, the Defense League, a self-defense organization, conducts drills in the woods for volunteers to precisely make improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, the weapon that plagued United States forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Had done it. ,

Civil defense in Ukraine is not unfamiliar; The volunteer brigades formed the backbone of the country’s military in the east in 2014, the first year of the war against Russian separatists, when the Ukrainian army was in dire straits.

This effort is now being formalized into units of the newly formed Territorial Defense Forces, a part of the Army. Last year, the Ukrainian military began weekend training for civilian volunteers in these units.

The government runs and pays for some training sessions through the Territorial Defense Forces. Private paramilitary groups such as the Ukrainian military conduct other sessions, for which their members pay all costs. The military organized the event in the forest outside Kiev this month.

The goal is not to achieve victory against the weight of the Russian army, which would be almost impossible for Ukraine anyway. Rather it is to create a threat of disruption and resistance to an occupying force that would serve as a deterrent to an invasion.

General Anatoly Barhilevich, deputy commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, has said the country aims to evacuate about 100,000 volunteers in case of conflict. But a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Forces said he could not disclose how many people were formally included in the training programmes.

Opinion surveys suggest some support for the effort. For example, in a survey this fall, 24 percent of Ukrainians appeared to say they would protest “with weapons in hand” if Russia invaded. Among men, 39 percent said they would protest with weapons. Ukrainians have taken posting a selfie Holding a rifle on social media.

Ukrainian commanders say half a million Ukrainians have military experience, and they expect many will be involved in the fighting, including those belonging to private groups such as the Ukrainian military.

But skeptics say this is partly a sham, and that the Ukrainian command could hardly count on the insurgents’ flood of rebels.

In the woods, in the mist of a bitter-cold morning, schoolteachers, accountants, waitresses and programmers hopped out of Toyotas and Fords and made their way to training sessions.

At a picnic area, the lesson of the day was occasional, if nerve-wracking: how to screw a fuse into an anti-tank mine’s slab of high explosives.

“We don’t have a lot of javelins and the Russians have too many tanks,” said instructor Mykhailo Hiraldo-Ramires. The Javelin is a type of American anti-tank missile provided by the United States to a limited number of Ukrainian forces. “We’ll get them instead of these so-called pancakes.”

Mr. Hiraldo-Ramayers shows how to install and fasten the detonator using a model from a mine. This required removing a metal safety ribbon and pushing a button, which when depressed makes a startling snapping noise, indicating that the mine is armed. After doing that, he said, you should “go back to a safe distance.”

Ihor Gribenoshko, 56, an advertising executive for a pharmaceutical company, took note. “The more coffins we send back, the more Russian people will start to think twice,” he said.

The Ukrainian military does not distribute weapons, and instead encourages members to train with their own rifles. It also does not explain how the explosives will get into the hands of civilians. But members said they keep rucksacks full of walkie-talkies, medical kits, sleeping bags and warm clothing in their homes – ready at a moment’s notice.

Critics point to the dangers in the civil defense plan. One concern is that domestic political divisions could incite violence from armed militias. Some scenarios imagine Moscow occupying this vulnerability, turning the nationalist militia into a destabilizing threat to the government.

In an invasion, these groups could “quickly turn into a decentralized insurgency in many parts of the country” noted a study of scenarios for a war between Ukraine and Russia by the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.

Others worry that the effort encourages private gun ownership, which raises the risk of crime, suicide and domestic violence. Ukraine’s law requires a psychological exam to obtain a gun license. In a country of about 40 million, 1.3 million Ukrainians own licensed civilian firearms, according to the Interior Ministry.

Citizen training includes lectures as well as practical sessions. This month, a day before the event in the woods, about 100 people filed in a concert hall in an outlying district of Kiev, worried about limited on-street parking and lining up at a vending machine for coffee.

They had come for a nearly two-hour lecture sponsored by the Territorial Defense Forces on possible plans for an attack on Kiev – including armored columns on highways or paratroopers occupying the airport – Lieutenant Yuri Matvienko, an Israeli military leader. Former Ukrainian military attache.

“A strong storm is expected,” he said. “We won’t have much time.”

He explained how volunteers can protest based on the strategy of the Islamic militia in Aleppo, Syria. He said volunteers should use their knowledge of their neighborhoods to move closer to Russian troops, leaving little detachment to call in airstrikes or artillery.

The next day, in a pine forest, Ms. Biloshitska – who studied to be a teacher but is now working as a waitress – encounters a casualty man while being trained to provide first aid. examined. not like it. Small strips of red duct tape indicated multiple wounds. pressure was exerted. The yard came out. There was a fake radio call.

“Artillery! One! Two! Three!” shouted an instructor. Instead of jumping back to stop the bleeding, Ms. Biloshitska took cover and fell to the ground.

On a typical weekend, Ms. Biloshitska said, she might read a book, do laundry or visit a friend at a coffee shop. Learning to heal the wounds of war was a new experience.

Ms Biloshitska treated the area on the man’s back marked as an exit wound. Finally, panting, sweating and surrounded by discarded bandages and medical gloves, she was finished. “How do you feel?” he asked the man.

“Terrible,” he said. “I was shot in the chest.”

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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