These Ukrainians want to oppose Vladimir Putin. They Just Need Guns.

LVIV, Ukraine — While Russian President Vladimir Putin desperately searches for ex-pats, mercenaries and foreign fighters to help with his stalled invasion of Ukraine, his opponents are not in trouble. when looking for people willing to fight. In Ukraine, new waves of volunteers are joining the huge queues to stock up on semi-automatic weapons to support the forces defending their homeland.

In western cities like Lviv, where the war causes minimal casualties compared to eastern cities like Kharkiv, Mariupol and the capital Kyiv, people are trying to use whatever tactical equipment they can. maybe.

Even if Russian forces break the current stalemate, there are still hundreds of thousands of volunteer resistance troops waiting for them.

Every day outside Stvol, a chain of defense equipment stores based in Ukraine and based in Odessa, there are long lines of people waiting to buy weapons. The windows are closed with metal mesh and only a few people are allowed in at a time. The line stretched around the block, some people had to wait several hours or more.

Ukraine is the only country in Europe where guns are federally regulated and citizens are allowed to own rifles and non-automatic handguns. In peacetime, firearms licenses go through a lengthy local verification and background check process. But on February 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter, “We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend our country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities”.

A young woman learns to use an AK-47 assault rifle during a civilian self-defense course on the outskirts of Lviv, western Ukraine, on March 4, 2022.

Daniel Leal / AFP via Getty Images

Billboards appeared all over the country, and TV channels aired segments on how Molotov cocktails were made. As of February 26, more than 25,000 automatic rifles, 10 million rounds of ammunition and an unspecified number of RPGs have been delivered to civilians, according to Interior Minister Denis Moosystemrsky. The only document required to obtain a weapon is an identification card.

In the early days of the war, this government handout was large enough to accommodate civilian soldiers who joined immediately. But as the war drags on, thousands more are lining up to buy weapons and tactical equipment to protect themselves and join the fight against Putin.

The young men in line told The Daily Beast that “The Captain,” an 80-year-old retired mathematician, was the best person to explain their plan.

Yaroslav Solomacha said: “I want to buy a gun to defend my country against the Russian army. His hands are a little shaky due to age, but he is very agile and full of energy. “I feel very well, I feel very well physically. I’m 80, but when I was in the army when I was young, I was very good at shooting.”

“Putin is an asshole.”

Solomacha hasn’t picked up a gun in over 30 years, but that hasn’t stopped him from planning a fight. When asked why he feels so strongly, he simply said that he is very proud to be Ukrainian. He was born in the Polish border town of Przemsyl but was forced by the Soviet government to move east with his family in 1948 to Lviv. He believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s entire narrative explanation of the invasion of Ukraine on historical grounds is theft. “[The Russians] have no history of their own, that’s why they steal their history from us. We have the history of Kievan Rus, they are stealing our story. ”

Although he will not join the Ukrainian army due to his age, he plans to join the local territorial defense units to defend Lviv. “If they come, I am ready to tear through the Russian army with my teeth if I need to,” he said with a fierce expression.

A makeshift shooting range has been set up in the store’s basement. No goggles or earplugs, or even protective fiberglass lanes.

A young man calling himself “Yoda” was waiting to enter. When asked why he was looking for a gun, he simply replied, “Cough Putin,” which roughly translates to “Putin is an asshole.”


A volunteer demonstrates making Molotov cocktails at the Pravda brewery in Lviv on February 27, 2022.

Daniel Leal / AFP via Getty Images

Also among the crowd outside was Vladimir Sorin, a 32-year-old local photographer born in Lviv who now lives with his wife in a modest apartment in the city. He was traveling with his friend, who was buying a gun, as he had bought a semi-automatic pistol for himself two days earlier. “I bought a cheaper model, which is the Turkish-made Hugli Renova 5-shot semi-automatic pistol.”

“According to Ukrainian law, you can buy anything from a handgun to 50 BMGs. As long as it’s semi-automatic, you can basically buy a nuclear warhead,” he chuckled. “It was a joke, but that’s all since the war started. People are buying everything. There’s almost nothing left.”

According to Sorin, it is not only fear that the Russian military is sending people to buy weapons. “People are planning to defend not so much against the Russian army because there is not much faith that war will happen so far. [west] into Ukraine. But there are many people who are not from this city, more than 200,000 people who are not from here. And people fear they might be murderers and crooks,” Sorin said. The most recent statistics show that the number of internal refugees in Lviv may be closer to 400,000.

“Basically, most people are buying weapons to protect their homes and loved ones. And if the worst happens, we have no choice but to defend ourselves against the Russian army. But hopefully it won’t come to this.”


Volunteer civilians are shown how to use an assault rifle in Odessa, Ukraine, March 23, 2022.

Vladimir Shtanko / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

When asked about the bombing on a military base not far from Lviv and near the Polish border, Sorin said he expected that to happen. “I knew it was coming because it’s not a mystery and it’s not a secret that there’s a military base there.” He said that did not change his belief that Russian troops would not reach Lviv.

While he did not believe the army would arrive, he feared missile attacks. “Lviv is a beautiful city, with beautiful old architecture. It will be a tragedy if this old architecture is demolished.”

Not everyone is there to buy for themselves. One young woman said she was waiting in line not to buy a gun but to buy a knife for a friend who was fighting on the front lines in Kyiv. Nastya Ryshkovych is a 23-year-old student who fled from Kyiv but is originally from Lviv. She said that she plans to eventually get a weapon of her own, but is waiting because she wants the chance to practice with a gun before buying one for herself. She’s been too busy helping the refugee influx so far. “Last year, I learned a little bit,” she said, “but I wanted better military training to defend myself and my city.”

Ryshkovych explains that owning a weapon and knowing how to use them is an important way to fulfill your role in the war.

“I believe everyone in Ukraine should aim to protect our land, whether men or women, so all Ukrainians know how to use guns and protect our country. when the time comes.” These Ukrainians want to oppose Vladimir Putin. They Just Need Guns.

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

Related Articles

Back to top button