Journalist Ethel Bonet of the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial visited the military training camps for teenagers in Ukraine.
The Spanish journalist visited a holiday camp that claims to provide military preparation and patriotic education to children and young people. It is located in the former Soviet leader camp, on the outskirts of Kiev, does not have an official website, but invites children and adolescents from 7 to 16 years through Facebook or known people.
The holiday camp is able to accommodate about 200 teenagers in 20-day shifts. Staff wear military uniforms and train boys in swimming, running, shooting, assembling and disassembling the AK-47 automatic rifle and other demanding physical exercises.
All this happens, reports the journalist, to the sound of nationalistic hymns, hardcore music or Ukrainian punk rock. Teens also train in military marching and singing nationalist slogans. At the beginning of the night, different performances take place with songs and nationalistic flags, torches lit, adolescents dressed in military uniforms and balaclavas, while raising the arm with the open hand upward.
Director of the holiday camp, Ivan Granatkin, is a Euromaidan culprit and was in the front ranks of the protesters in 2014. He has a braid and part of the head studded and is covered in tattoos from head to toe.
“We are giving patriotic education to youth in the conditions of the war in Eastern Ukraine. It is very important to educate the children so that they become patriots and can defend their country if necessary,” said Ivan Granatkin.
Another farm worker told the journalist that they are preparing the boys for resistance against Russia. According to him, with such an aggressor on the side, Ukraine will be forced to go to war sooner or later, adding that it dreams to see these children and adolescents become soldiers.
For four years, thousands of Ukrainian children and teenagers have been spending their summer in these military camps, where there are no usual educational and pedagogical standards, writes Ethel Bonet in her article.
“Even if the conflict in Ukraine is resolved, the danger will remain, as the younger generations are formed in a climate of hatred towards those on the other side. The reinforced military preparation of children and adolescents represents a time bomb for the Ukrainian future,” wrote the journalist.
In 2014, the Ukrainian authorities began a military operation against the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, which declared their independence after the coup that took place in Ukraine in 2014. According to the latest UN estimates, military actions in Donbass resulted in the death of more than 10,000 people.
In February 2015, the parties to the conflict signed the Minsk peace agreements to end the fighting in the region, but the situation remained tense, with both parties accusing each other of breaches of the cease-fire.