A group of Russian women with elaborate manicures and camouflage attire are practicing different firing positions, first on their knees and then on their bellies, using guns designed by the Soviet Union. The gymnasium where the women have congregated in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg amid the Ural Mountains is almost 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the Ukrainian frontline.
However, the ongoing violence in the eastern province of Donetsk, which has raged for a year, has stoked fresh militaristic fervor in Russia and fears that the battle could return home.
The 36-year-old mother of two stated, wearing a Z-emblazoned cap to symbolize the Russian incursion, “I adore Russia very much.”
The seminar is part of an effort entitled “The Women’s Guard of the Urals,” which Smetanina and other activists initiated in September after the Kremlin announced the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of men.
Her rhetoric regarding Ukraine is uncannily similar to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who identifies Kyiv and its Western allies as Nazi sympathizers who pose an imminent threat to Russian Women.
“Recently, there has been so much assault from other nations against our Russia, against our dear country,” Smetanina said, elaborating on the project’s inspiration.
Weapons, first aid, and self-defense
Since Putin dispatched troops to Ukraine in February of last year, state propaganda has been in overdrive to bolster pride in the Russian military. Some Russians have joined military courses in Yekaterinburg run by veterans of the Ukraine offensive in response to the increase in patriotic propaganda.
Smetanina stated that her project was inspired by a proposal on Russian social media. It was an immediate success.
She stated, “Women from all over Russia began phoning us.” And men called to express their support.
By December, approximately fifty women had finished the combined guns, self-defense, first aid, and drone operation training course.
She claimed that another 50 are now undergoing training and that a third batch will begin in April.
The two-month program consists of three gym sessions each week in addition to a shooting practice at an outdoor range.
Smetanina boasted that the contestants’ performances were “excellent.”
She stated that their shooting performance was “practically identical” to that of guys in the military who received comparable firearms training.
Anastasia Gubankova, one of the participants, stated that her father and husband were both military officers, therefore it was natural for her to enroll in the course.
Someone must defend us
Gubankova, an ardent backer of Putin’s military objectives in Ukraine, stated that she would not object if her 19-year-old son enlisted in the military.
She said this while wearing a camouflage hoodie with the word Z embroidered on it.
When he mentioned the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, I was taken away by his statement, “I couldn’t cope with the fact that I had betrayed my grandfather, who had fought for me.”
Some of the women had long hair and extensive makeup. Others attend classes while wearing their jewelry.
Smetanina, who has long blonde hair, stated that knowing how to fire a rifle or toss a grenade would never affect her appearance.
“I shall always be attractive. In every situation, I will curl my hair and strive to take care of myself “She stated,
One teacher who leads the first aid training under the alias “Zulus” acknowledged he was initially skeptical.
He altered his mind after observing the women in action.
“I realized I was in error. This is a genuine women’s guard “He said to AFP.
Smetanina is currently creating a new initiative titled “The Generation Z Center” to promote patriotism among both adults and children.