AP PHOTOS: Citizen soldiers train to repel Russian troops

February 27, 2022 GMT

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Fingernails painted pink, blue and purple pastels grip the barrel of a gun.

Men line up dozens of empty wine and liquor bottles in a courtyard to make Molotov cocktails.

A newlywed couple poses for a photo with newly issued rifles.

Captivating images by Associated Press photographers show everyday Ukrainians taking up arms as civilian soldiers to repel a Russian invasion.

Men and women have volunteered in droves and stood in long lines to get weapons and learn how to defend their country. Some even returned from abroad to join the resistance.

As Russian troops surrounded the country this month, ordinary citizens received basic combat training in everything from handling guns to making incendiary Molotov cocktails to tossing grenades.

One photo showed a young woman lying on her chest, propped on her elbows with her long blond hair covering one eye.

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Her other eye stared down the barrel of a rifle during a training session organized by the Special Forces Unit Azov, of Ukraine’s National Guard, in the city of Mariupol in the country’s eastern Donetsk region.

Another image showed an instructor in camouflage and wearing ear protection with his hands on the shoulders of a woman taking target practice with a Kalashnikov assault rifle near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.


The newly trained civil defense forces stood guard behind stacks of tires at checkpoints in the capital of Kyiv and patrolled empty streets. Most wore street clothes with only yellow arm bands to identify them as volunteer soldiers.