Ukraine crisis: Children aged 10 ready to die fighting Russian troops if Putin invades

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Youngsters train using wooden rifles alongside adult volunteers as they prepare to defend Ukraine from threatened invasion from the east by Putin’s Russian army

Yaroslav Pikaliyk, 10, takes part in the military exercise (

Image: Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Wielding his wooden assault rifle, 10-year-old Yaroslav Pikaliyk proudly stands alongside adult volunteers as they train to defend Ukraine from invasion.

Still too young to sign up properly, Yaroslav was put through his paces yesterday under the watchful eye of his war widow mum Tetiana.

And he wasn’t the youngest there. Children as young as four turned up at the military training camp in Kyiv as Ukraine stepped up its efforts to enlist civilians to fight if Russia decides to invade.

Tetiana, 35, a civil servant, said: “Yaroslav wanted to be here today. He is the son of a man who gave his life for Ukraine and now it is good for him to have adult male influence. If he fights for Ukraine one day then I will be very proud.”

Yaroslav must be 18 to join Kyiv’s Territorial Defense Force.

Children wield wooden guns during training in Kyiv
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Image:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

But speaking to us with Tetiana’s permission, he said shyly: “I’m with my mum today. Maybe I want [fight] one day, probably…I don’t know.”

Dad Oleg, 38, was volunteering as a driver supplying troops as they fought separatists five years ago. He died of a heart attack after suffering shock during an incident in the fighting.

Russia yesterday stepped up its pressure on Ukraine, sending another 10,000 troops to Crimea – which it annexed in 2014. Ukraine is now facing 126,000 Russian troops on its eastern flank and 80,000 Russian and Belarusian troops over the border to the north.

Couple Sophia and Vadym, both 19, are ready to defend their country
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Image:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Yana Komush, 20, practices with a gun
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Image:

Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

At the camp in snow-covered woods outside the capital, Kyiv’s 127 Battalion of the Territorial Defense Force prepared volunteers for what may lie ahead if the worst happens. Children, young women and couples joined the intense camp.

Twin brothers Taras and Bohdan, four, played with wooden assault rifles as men and women in the background trained for real-life warfare.

Mum Iryna, 35, said: “I don’t think they understand, but they love everything to do with the military. If they want to be soldiers when they grow up and fight to defend their homeland, I will not stop them.”

Yana Komush, 20, was dressed more for a night out, in skin-tight leathers, as she did the splits to take up a fighting position with her AK-47.

She said: “I dress for comfort and have my own style, but I take this very seriously. I want to help defend Ukraine and do what I can.” Asked if she will kill for her country, she said: “It’s not something I particularly want, but if I have to, of course I will do it.”

Volunteers Sophia and Vadym – both 19 and together for just six months – are also ready to sign up. Asked if he will fight for Ukraine, Vadym said simply: “I don’t see it that way. I am willing to defend Ukraine. That’s how I look at it.”

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