Russia has launched military training courses for kindergarteners and young schoolchildren in the occupied Crimea, according to reports from Ukrainian human rights activists.
Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, shared a video showing a military training course being conducted in one of the educational facilities in Sevastopol. The course includes basic military training, martial arts, and weapon handling for young students.
“These courses are not only for schoolchildren but also for kindergarteners. This was reported by the speaker of the so-called parliament,” Lubinets said.
A Russian military recruitment ad in local Russian kindergarten pic.twitter.com/PxkTNXP4V5
— Dylan Burns 🇺🇦🏳️🌈 (@DylanBurns1776) August 25, 2022
The Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights warned that such training programs could be harmful to the psychological and emotional development of young children. He called on Russian authorities to immediately halt the program and respect the rights of children in occupied Crimea.
The so-called “Youth Army” movement began operating in Crimea in 2014 after Russia annexed the region. Rights activists claim that the Russian army is building a young army in Crimea, that will be ready to fight for Russia.
“Among the young Russian soldiers who are now fighting – and dying – in Ukraine, there are many who were brought up in this very ‘Youth Army’ while still at school,” Lubinets added.
Russian officials have not yet responded to the allegations of military training for kindergarten students. However, Lubinets also reported that “Military Training” classes would be added to the regular school curriculum in Russia starting from the next academic year.
Rights activists have condemned the Russian move, saying it is an attempt to militarize Ukrainian children in the temporarily occupied territories. The Ukrainian government has also expressed concern about Russia’s actions, calling it an attempt to brainwash children.
“Russia is trying to turn children into killing machines. The military training of young children is unacceptable and goes against international norms and values,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, a former spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
The militarization of young children is a serious concern for human rights organizations, as it could lead to an increased number of child soldiers in future conflicts. The United Nations has condemned the use of child soldiers, saying it violates their human rights.
The use of children in military training is a disturbing trend, and the international community must take action to prevent the militarization of young people. The situation in Crimea remains tense, and the introduction of military training for young children is only adding to the concerns about the ongoing conflict.