Desperate moments call for extreme measures — and in Ukraine, that includes arming any citizen who wants to take up a weapon.
In a tweet Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced anyone who wanted a gun to defend the country could have it. The announcement came as Russia’s invasion moved deeper into Ukrainian territory.
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As for Zelenskyy, he promised a gun to anyone willing to take up arms.
“We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities,” he tweeted.
We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2022
The move came as Russia’s attacks moved deep into Ukrainian territory. Pentagon sources said Friday morning that Russian troops were within 20 miles of Kyiv, according to NBC News.
Zelenskyy said that at least 137 Ukrainians had been killed by Russian forces — and that Moscow-aided saboteurs were already in the capital.
“We also have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv,” he said, noting that “the enemy marked me as the No. 1 target.”
“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state,” the Ukraine president said.
Zelenskyy has pledged to remain in Kyiv, however.
The invasion of Ukraine is only two days old — and although Russian President Vladimir Putin calls it merely a “special military operation” to aid Russian-speaking Ukrainians, Moscow shows no intention of stopping with that.
In a speech on Thursday, Putin said Russia’s “goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide … for the last eight years. And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine,” according to Reuters.
“And to bring to court those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.”
Any country that interfered, Putin said, would face “such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
Ukraine has responded to Russian aggression by arming its citizens. Before the invasion, according to Business Insider, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law allowing citizens to carry guns in public; Ukrainians previously were only allowed to keep their guns in their homes.
According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, gun dealers in Ukraine were doing swift business, too.
One woman, whose husband was buying her a revolver, said she would use it if Russian troops confronted her. “It’s not the only weapon we’ve got, we’re just buying a new one to add to the stocks,” she said.
“In the gun shop, we are now very busy. There are very many people who want to buy guns and there are many people who want to buy cartridges. We have cartridges, but not many, not enough. Every day, many, many cartridges have been bought. We have [been really full],” the gun shop owner said.
Now, the government is going to give guns to whoever will take up arms against the Russians.
It might not look good for the Ukrainians at the moment, but an armed populace that’s willing to fight could make a long-term occupation problematic and bloody for Putin — and that’s exactly what it should be.
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