A member of the Ukrainian Parliament and leader of one of its political parties announced she is volunteering to take up arms against the Russian invasion on Friday.
Kira Rudik posted a picture of herself holding an AKS-74U rifle and declaring her willingness to fight. She said she’d started training with the gun, but the situation felt “surreal as just a few days ago it would never come to my mind.” She also said she is fully willing to use the gun if forced to do so.
“Yea, I will be willing to shoot and kill someone in defense of my family, and my city, and what I possess, and the land that we all love,” Rudik told the BBC. “I don’t understand why the Russians come to our country. I don’t understand why it’s fair for them to get in and try to instill their power. That’s why I will have to fight. People around me and people here in Kyiv are ready to do that as well.”
Other politicians have also posted pictures and videos of themselves demonstrating their willingness to stand and fight. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shared a video of himself and key members of the government’s leadership in Kyiv. Former President Petro Poroshenko did the same despite being a rival and critic of Zelenskiy.
Multiple reports from the ground indicate other Ukranians are also rushing to join the fight against the Russian invaders. NPR’s Tim Mak found groups of men lining up to enlist in a central Ukrainian town. Videos are ciculating on social media of the military handing out arms to civilians after the Interior Minister claimed they’d already given away 10,000 automatic rifles inside the capital city of Kyiv. The news also follows the government’s move to lossen its civilian gun laws and codify the right to armed defense of person and property.
Some reports indicate volunteers are even overwhelming some recruitment offices.
“They told us: ‘Come back tomorrow morning, we haven’t even eaten all day, have mercy on us,’” an Oxford-educated civil servant who tried to join Kyiv’s defense force on Friday morning, told The Guardian.
The apparant rush to enlist comes after the military announced it would take any Ukrainian willing to fight. The country had been training civilian volunteers in the lead up to the invasion after seeing success with the formations during its protracted war against Russian-backed sepratists in the east. It hopes to immediately recruit around 130,000 to fight, but some military leaders have estimated as many as half a million Ukrainians have some kind of military experience to draw from.
If the government and military do collapse in the face of their larger and better-equipped Russian adversary, the country hopes to seed a resitance movement as well. General Oleksandr Pavlyuk, commander of the Joint Operation Forces who’ve fought the Russian-backed separatists, told The New York Times in December the country is prepared for what may come.
“We’ll start a partisan war,” he said of the possibility of a Russian invasion wiping out the formal military. “Eight years have passed and there are very many people with military experience who are prepared with weapons in their hands to fight.”
It appears many Ukrainians, man and woman, are willing to do exactly that.
“Is it scary to hold a gun?” Rudik said on Friday. “Yes, it is scary, but Putin’s soldiers are worse.”