Ukrainian mum learning to fight as fears of imminent Russian invasion ramp up

Mum Ailsa, 38, always enjoyed sport shooting and joined a local territorial defense unit more than a year ago to acquire combat skills – but is now worried she might have to use them in a real war

Ailsa takes part in combat skills training (

Image: REUTERS)

A mum is learning to fight as fears of a Russian invasion into Ukraine ramp up.

Alisa, a Ukrainian with an office job in the capital, had always enjoyed sport shooting and joined a local territorial defense unit more than a year ago to acquire combat skills.

Now the 38-year-old is worried she might have to use those skills in a real war with Russia.

She said in her house outside Kyiv, Ukraine while her son, Timur, watched cartoons: “People die, that’s horrible. Even worse is when you think not just about your life but about the life of a seven-year-old child.

“I realize he can be hurt because of the silliness of the neighboring country, not a brother country anymore.”

Ailsa with the Territorial Defense Force near Kyiv, Ukraine
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Image:

REUTERS)

Russia’s build-up of tens of thousands of troops near the borders with Ukraine has stirred fears in Ukraine and Western countries that it is poised to invade, which Moscow denies.

Alisa, who asked to be identified only by her first name, joined the territorial defense forces a year and a half ago, earlier than many.

In January, as the Russian troops massed, the Government said it wanted to build reserve battalions up into a corps of up to 130,000 people.

Ailsa gets to grips with a weapon in training
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Image:

REUTERS)

She has seen dozens of new people joining the training sessions each Saturday.

This weekend she put on camouflage clothing taking one of her two small-calibre guns kept at home and heading to a training ground in a forest.

Along with dozens of other volunteers, she spent seven hours either with her weapon on the ground or on guard as a part of a small patrol protecting a concrete building from enemy saboteurs.

She said the fact she has at least basic training is some comfort.

Alisa poses with a gun for a picture at her home near Kyiv, Ukraine
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REUTERS)

“If God forbid, a war starts…I know how to move from an unsafe point A to a safe point B,” Alisa said.

“I understand how to do if I’m under fire. I know how to help Timur, friends, neighbors if they are caught in the fire.”

Ailsa has visited more 50 countries along with her biker husband and is a media relations specialist at an organization that works in cyber security.

Reservists prepare for war in combat skills training
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REUTERS)

But she tries not to skip training sessions even if she badly needs rest at the end of the working week.

She added: “If we had peacetime I would miss training if I was tired but now I make myself get up early for a session because now it’s needed more than ever.”

The task is not glamorous but could be necessary if Russia invades
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Image:

REUTERS)

Alisa likes gaining new skills that have built her self-confidence and courage but hopes never to have to use them.

She said: “I feel anger, hatred and I have canceled my plans. It’s all surreal for me and I don’t get how such silly things can happen in a civilized world in the 21st century.”

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