Conflicts & War

The Ukrainian women taking up arms against Russia

Burlacha Balka, Ukraine, Mar 19 (EFE).- Irina’s life was paralyzed when Russia invaded Ukraine, but instead of leaving she opted to learn how to use weapons to defend the city of Odesa.

She enlisted in a military base located in the port town of Burlacha Balka (20 kilometers from Odesa), on the Black Sea coastline, which has been bracing for an imminent attack by Russian troops.

It is 10 am and six instructors, including a woman, sing the Ukrainian anthem grasping their rifles while some 30 civilians stand in front holding a hand on their chests.

“I’ve always been interested in weapons and this training is like anti-stress therapy,” she tells Efe after a two-hour session.

“With these lessons, I feel safer and I do it (…) because I don’t want to feel useless,” she adds.

When the Russian invasion began on February 24, Irina lost her job as an interior designer so she now focuses on military training and distributing humanitarian aid from neighboring Moldova.

The 34-year-old says she will not flee because she has a family and a country to protect.

“We will win and live better, we will concentrate on our lives, families, hobbies. Now that we look back we understand and appreciate the little things in life,” she says.

Eva, a professional competitive shooter, has become a trainer to civilians and she teaches them how to defend themselves and their country.

The 41-year-old goes to the center in Burlacha Balka nearly every day to teach civilians how to use the available firearms, but she also insists that responsibility and safety come “first”.

“From my house, I will not attack anyone. We can defend ourselves (against) the Russian invaders, but we cannot shoot from a distance because I cannot be sure who they are,” she adds.

Although Eva tries to teach compliance with the rules, she cannot be responsible for the actions of others.

“It is their decision. I teach them how to protect themselves and not to put themselves or others in danger. I am responsible for myself, but not for others.” EFE


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