Russian state media touts video of schoolchildren in Crimea drilling with rifles and training in hand-to-hand combat

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Russian state media touts video of schoolchildren in Crimea drilling with rifles and training in hand-to-hand combat
A split image showing a child in Crimea training with a rifle (left) and a group of children completing hand-to-hand combat training.RIA Novosti Crimea
  • A new video shows schoolchildren in Crimea training with rifles and completing hand-to-hand combat.
  • The lessons are reportedly part of a training course that will come to other schools this year.
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A new video shared by Russian state media shows schoolchildren in Crimea training with rifles and engaging in hand-to-hand combat drills. The lessons appear to be part of a military training course that students across grade levels are participating in.

In the video, originally shared by RIA Novosti Crimea, students first handle rifles in a competitive timed exercise. The guns appear to resemble Kalashnikov rifles, which students take apart, clean, and reload. "Who won?" a student asks as the exercise ends.

The video then transitions to a hand-to-hand combat exercise. During the lesson, nine students showcase basic martial arts stances while handling guns that also appear to resemble Kalashnikov rifles.

According to a translation, RIA Novosti Crimea reported that this is one of the first schools to host these basic military training lessons.

"Now, more than 60 people are engaged in martial arts, drill training, including kindergarten students and school children," according to Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Crimea.

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"Children show great interest in activities," Konstantinov added. The translation also says: "An electronic shooting range was equipped in the institution for conducting shooting classes."

The Crimean school's military course is reportedly a pilot program and will be implemented in secondary schools across the country later this year, BBC News Moscow Bureau senior journalist Will Vernon said on Twitter.

The course is the latest documented effort of a growing military presence in Russian schools after Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine over a year ago.

Last month, Insider reported on purported documents revealed by the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry that appear to show Russian plans to draft full-time college students, establishing so-called "notification offices" on college campuses to draft students and ship them in the front lines.

Earlier this week, Insider reported that the mercenary Wagner Group had started giving career talks at Russian high schools to recruit new troops. The masked Wagner recruiters reportedly distributed "questionnaires entitled 'application of a young warrior' to collect the contact details of interested pupils" and told "heroic stories" of battle in Ukraine.

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Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin also established recruitment centers in schools and youth sports clubs.

The new strategy marks a shift from Wagner's previous efforts to recruit Russian prisoners in exchange for reduced jail time. Intel suggests Wagner's presence in Russian schools is intended to "recruit more impressionable recruits through these youth-focused campaigns and instill in them Prigozhin's extremist ideological brand of Russian ultranationalism."

Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov

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