The instructor presented a drone equipped with cameras to a class of cooks, architects and office workers who retired from civilian life in Ukraine to learn soldiering skills.
A commander asked the group of around 50 army reservists who would like to learn how to fly the small drone as part of the preparations to protect their city – Kiev – should Russia to invade.
Several volunteers have expressed their interest. All have carefully followed the tutorial.
These part-time soldiers spend each Saturday learning military skills, alternating between classroom training in a large hall and running outside with guns.
The man in charge, Col. Serhiy Grom, a seasoned military veteran, said there had been an increase in the number of people wishing to join his battalion over the past year as the threat of a new Russian offensive grew up.
“A lot of them are young people,” the 50-year-old told Sky News in an interview.
“The ‘young blood’ … are people who have not served in the armed forces for different reasons but who have succeeded in our combat training … I must say that the young people who come – it is a pleasure to work with them because they understand why they came. “
Its home defense group, the 130 Battalion, comprises some 320-330 reservists, aged between 21 and 56.
Such units are designed to support the regular armed forces in the event of a Russian attack – protecting key locations like municipal buildings and bridges.
It’s a military threat that many fear will become a reality if the diplomatic dialogue this week between Russia and the United States as well as the rest of the NATO alliance fails.
In the training hall, a young man – his face hidden by a beige balaclava – proudly displayed his military gear, which he says he himself purchased, ranging from a folding pistol and bulletproof vest to camouflage to a first aid kit and a water tank. proof notebook.
“We prepare, we prepare, we train, we learn,” said the 21-year-old student, who only wanted to be identified by his call sign “Jaeger”.
He claimed he had undergone military-style training for the past seven years despite his young age and was ready to defend his country if the call came.
“Yes I would like [fight],” he said.
“Jaeger,” an only child, said he even had difficult conversations with his parents about what it might mean if he went to war given the threat of being killed in action.
“I have already had a conversation with my relatives. We are already having these very difficult discussions.”
He and a friend, also a reservist, showed video footage they took of battalion members training in the woods last November.
The footage showed troops, rifles in hand, entering and cleaning a disused building.
“Jaeger” said everyone had a choice if Russia threatened Ukraine with more military actions after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing conflict in the east.
“There is always someone who will leave the country, someone who will just stay at home and others who will protect,” he said. “So there is a decision on what to choose and I, along with my good friend, have chosen to be protectors.”
A number of soldiers in the battalion already have military experience.
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But others, like Marta Yuzkiv, 51, a clinical researcher and mother of three, chose to register last year as a novice.
“I’m completely a civilian person, so all of these basic military things that you have to learn – how to work with your colleagues in times of danger, what to do, how to use guns, practical medicine, all of these basic military things,” she declared.
When asked if she was ready to fight if necessary, she replied, “I’m not sure anyone could be ready to fight. Maybe professional military personnel could. I’m certainly scared but I know exactly that I don’t want to live under occupation so I will fight. “