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Ukrainian citizens, defiant, take up arms to defend their country against Russia


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Ukrainian political leaders and ordinary citizens alike are taking up arms to defend their homeland against Russia’s invasion this week. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday — just hours after Russian forces crossed the border into Ukraine — that the government would hand out weapons to anyone willing to take up arms. 

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By Friday, Ukrainian officials had already handed out 18,000 guns, according to the BBC.

Kira Rudik, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, posted multiple pictures of herself with guns, saying that “[women] will protect our soil the same way as our [men].”

“I planned to plant tulips and daffodils on my backyard today,” Rudik tweeted on Saturday. “Instead, I learn to fire arms and get ready for the next night of attacks on [Kyiv] … We are not going anywhere. This is our [city], our [land], our soil. We will fight for it.”

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She added, “So next week I can plant my flowers. Here.”

Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said that he would stay and fight. His brother and fellow heavyweight boxing champion, Wladimir Klitschko, enrolled in Ukraine’s reserve army as the country braced for the Russian invasion. 

“We are not going anywhere. This is our [city], our [land], our soil. We will fight for it.”

“We will defend ourselves with all our might and fight for freedom and democracy,” Wladimir Klitschko wrote in a LinkedIn blog post on Thursday, as WHD News Digital reported earlier today.

“You can also act. Let not fear seize us; let’s not remain frozen.”

Newly married couple Yarina Arieva and Svyatoslav Fursinb pose for a photo after they joined the ranks of the city territorial defense the day after they got married in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. 

Newly married couple Yarina Arieva and Svyatoslav Fursinb pose for a photo after they joined the ranks of the city territorial defense the day after they got married in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. 
(WHD Photo/Mikhail Palinchak)

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry even urged citizens to make homemade weapons such as Molotov cocktails as Russian forces inched closer to Kyiv. 

“Make Molotov cocktails, neutralize the occupier!” the Defense Ministry tweeted on Friday. 

Former Miss Ukraine Anastasiia Lenna posted a photo of herself — armed — to her 65,000 followers on Instagram this week. 

In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, inspects weapons during a visit to Ukrainian coast guards in Mariupol, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. 

In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, inspects weapons during a visit to Ukrainian coast guards in Mariupol, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. 
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via WHD)

Men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been banned from leaving Ukraine as martial law was declared in the country. 

Russia has claimed it is only attacking military targets — but civilians have already been killed and a residential apartment building in Kyiv was hit with a missile, according to Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dymetro Kuleba. 

Health authorities said on Saturday that 198 people, including three children, have already been killed in the fighting. 

In addition, at least 1,115 people — including 33 children — have been wounded. 

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Ukrainian President Zelenskyy reportedly turned down an offer from the U.S. to evacuate Kyiv, saying he wouldn’t leave his country. 

“The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelenskyy told U.S. officials. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands alongside other government officials in an image from a video posted to social media on Friday. He has vowed to defend his country against a Russian invasion. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands alongside other government officials in an image from a video posted to social media on Friday. He has vowed to defend his country against a Russian invasion. 
(Armed Forces of Ukraine)

The U.S. appears to be complying with Zelenskyy’s request, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Saturday another $350 million in military assistance for Ukraine. 

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That brings the total to more than $1 billion that the U.S. has sent to Ukraine over the past year. 

The contributed to this report. 

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