Chilling photos show Ukrainian kids handling guns amid Russian invasion threat

Women and children handled a range of weapons, including assault rifles and rocket launchers, at a civil defense exercise in the city of Uzhhorod in Western Ukraine

A boy handled a sniper rifle at the civil defense exercise in the city of Uzhhorod

These chilling pictures show Ukrainian women and children training with guns ahead of a potential Russian invasion.

Civilians across the country are practicing with a range of weapons as they prepare to resist an attack.

The dramatic photographs were taken at a civil defense exercise in the city of Uzhhorod, in Western Ukraine, on Sunday.

It comes as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned that Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine “almost immediately”.

Boris Johnson urged President Vladimir Putin to step back from the “edge of a precipice” amid fears of an invasion within the next 48 hours.

As civilians took part in training drills in Ukraine, volunteer soldiers practiced with wooden assault rifles in preparation for a Russian assault.

Civilians across Ukraine are taking up arms to resist a possible Russian invasion


Serhii Hudak / Avalon)

The army reservists were run through exercises on Saturday, with some wearing trainers and sportswear as they aimed using mock weapons.

Nervous over the threat of some 120,000 Russian troops massed near the border, Kyiv has launched a new Territorial Defense force this year, which it hopes to build into a corps of 130,000 people.

While they may stand little chance against the much bigger and better-equipped professional Russian army, reservists could be tasked with protecting civilian sites in the capital amid any conflict.

Boris Johnson has urged President Vladimir Putin to step back from the ‘edge of a precipice’ amid fears he will invade Ukraine


Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, civilians in Ukraine are buying their own rifles and military equipment as they plan to take the fight to Russia if it invades.

Mariana Zhaglo, a marketing researcher, spent $1,300 (£950) on the rifle after listening in on a conversation between soldiers about the best rifle to get.

The mum-of-three bought a Zbroyar Z-15 carbine, a hunting rifle by designation, but the 52-year-old did not buy it to shoot deers.

Russia has massed more than 120,000 troops on Ukraine’s border


Future Publishing via Getty Images)

She told TheTimes: “As a mother I do not want my children to inherit Ukraine’s problems, or have these threats passed on to them. It is better that I deal with this now.

“If it comes to it then we will fight for Kiev; we will fight to protect our city. If the fighting begins, they will come here. Kiev is a main target.”

Mariana lives in Kiev, a city known in Russia as ‘the mother of Russian cities’ – a moniker which reflects a reported belief that Ukraine and the surrounding areas near the Russian border rightfully belong to those in Moscow.

Alongside buying her rifle, Mariana, a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces (TDF), had a silencer, bipod and telescopic sight fixed to the weapon.

Ukrainians have vowed to defend their country if it comes under attack


Future Publishing via Getty Images)

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The TDF is a voluntary unit of the Ukrainian armed forces.

She also bought a helmet, snow camouflage, flak jacket, ammunition pouches, boots and British army surplus uniform for $1,000.

The mum also went on a two-week sniper course.

Alongside her new gun, she told the Times she had stocked up on supplies and food including “lots and lots of ammunition”.

Mariana is far from the only Ukrainian taking up arms to protect her home.

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