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Teachers, Accountants And Priests: Ukraine Training A Civilian Army To Fend Off Russian Invasion

(Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The Ukrainian military is preparing civilians to fight off a potential Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s Territorial Defence Forces are made up of a civilian reserve army, including anyone from lawyers and teachers to nurses and priests, France24 reported Monday. The civilians are being trained with military rifles in skills like urban combat, marksmanship and explosives identification.

In Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, which is just around 20 miles from the Russian border to the north, civilians can attend training courses every Saturday. There are signs posted throughout the city advertising the opportunity. The military hopes to add 130,000 civilians to the Defence Forces, as President Vladimir Putin is positioning more than 100,000 of his Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, according to The New York Times.

“The worst thing for me would be to find myself holed up in a shelter without knowing what to do,” 36-year-old engineer Alexei Sus told France24.

The Kalashnikovs used for training are kept at a military base and only to be distributed in the event of a conflict, and civilians can, according to Sus, “only keep a hunting weapon at home” with a permit. So Sus says he’s saving up money for an American-made KelTec RFB 308 rifle, France24 reported.

About 20% of the Territorial Defence Force is made up of women, authorities said, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Reporter Confronts State Department Spokesman Ned Price Over Russia, Ukraine)

“I am a nurse during the day and for me, it is an obligation as a health worker to join the Territorial Defence Forces. I want to use my professional experience to save as many people as possible if the situation gets out of hand,” a woman named Alisa told France24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed an order Tuesday to add 100,000 troops to the military, but that plan will be implemented over a three-year period. In the meantime, the United States believes a Russian invasion is imminent.