A Ukrainian mother-of-three has armed herself with a powerful hunting rifle, vowing to “fight for Kiev” amid fears of a Russian invasion.
“As a mother I do not want my children to inherit Ukraine’s problems, or have these threats passed on to them. It is better that I deal with this now,” Mariana Zhaglo, 52, told the Times of London in her Kiev kitchen, where she posed with the high-caliber weapon.
Zhaglo, a marketing researcher, spent the equivalent of $1,300 on the Zbroyar Z-15 carbine, which she learned how to use by attending a two-week sniper’s course.
“I have never hunted in my life. I bought this carbine after listening to some soldiers discussing the best rifle to get,” Zhaglo, who affixed a silencer, telescopic sight and bipod affixed to the gun, told the outlet.
The armed mom, a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, also shelled out more than $1,100 on a helmet, snow camouflage, flak jacket, ammo pouches, boots and a British army surplus uniform.
“I have got pickles and tins of fish, chicken and ham stashed beside the kitchen table, and lots and lots of ammunition,” Zhaglo told the Times.
“If it comes to it then we will fight for Kiev — we will fight to protect our city. I don’t see any sense in the Russians starting a war and leaving Kiev alone. If the fighting begins, they will come here. Kiev is a main target,” she added.
Her preparations come as Ukrainian officials have sought to ease concerns about a possible Russian invasion, telling their citizens there is “no reason to panic,” despite the US and its NATO allies preparing to provide additional support.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier this week that the situation is “under control,” while Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov affirmed that Russia’s armed forces had not yet formed battle groups.
The Kremlin has called Western concerns about the prospect of an invasion “hysteria” – and accused NATO allies of using Ukraine for their own “provocations” against Moscow.
On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov accused the US of “fomenting tensions” around the Eastern European country.
Concerns over increased military action by Moscow have grown in recent days, as the US has begun to evacuate families of diplomats from Ukraine and NATO has announced plans to increase its own military presence in Eastern Europe.
Zhaglo said the threat of an invasion “has been present one way or another for eight years.
“Ramping up troop levels, then taking them back again, was a regular practice both of the Soviets and the Russians. People here became familiar with the tension,” she told the news outlet.
“I am the only one in my own social circles even talking about this crisis at the moment. My friends and neighbors are talking about where they will spend their spring and summer holidays,” she added.
Meanwhile, the TDF has been ramping up recruitment efforts to provide assistance to the country’s 255,000 regular troops, the Times reported.
“I am in market research, a woman and not so young either. The TDF is my best option to get trained if I’m needed to fight. … I will take my orders whatever they are. If there’s a need for the shooting to start, then I’ll start shooting,” Zhaglo said.
When asked if she would consider leaving Kiev with her husband and children if an attack on the capital began, she said, “For those of us aware of the threat, this is a hard moment.
“We are ready, but we try not to talk about this subject too much. Neither my husband nor I have any living relatives elsewhere, other than our children: we have nowhere else to go,” the mom continued.
“So we will stay here together, whatever. This is our home. We will fight for it.”