Ukraine Is Training Young Protesters to Fight the Russian Army

Monday, March 17, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Henry Langston

How does a country that has, by its own admission, only 6,000 combat-ready troops face down the might of a Russian military that has stationed some 200,000 soldiers along its borders? This was a question Ukraine’s new interim government had to start answering pretty quickly when Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula at the beginning of March.

Putin, whose government is friendly to the toppled regime, continues to insist that no invasion has taken place. According to Moscow, any troop movements are merely to protect their Black Sea naval forces from the “Ukrainian nationalists” whose “fascist coup” forced former President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kiev.

However, on the ground, things look different. It’s currently estimated that around 20,000 Russian troops are occupying Crimea, surrounding and besieging the 15,000 Ukrainian troops in their bases on the peninsula. So far, the Ukrainians have kept their cool in what is either a heroic display of restraint, or a logical appraisal of their position, while Russian troops and pro-Russian groups intermittently try to goad them into a fight. Now that the people of Crimea have apparently voted to join Russia – in a referendum that is not recognised by Kiev or the West – Ukrainian troops have been given until Friday to leave the peninsula.

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