With violence escalating in eastern Ukraine, the women of Lugansk are taking up arms alongside men, joining the fight against Kiev. The Women’s Battalion has girls as young as in their twenties, assembling Kalashnikovs and manning checkpoints.
Katerina, 21, is one of them. It literally takes her seconds to assemble her rifle. She started on the frontline as a nurse, but soon took up arms and swapped her white robe for camouflage fatigues.
Speaking with RT’s correspondent Maria Finoshina, she says she already had to kill someone.
“It was in self-defense. It was them who approached, not us,” Katerina says. She sees the people she is fighting against as mere pawns in a bigger game.
“Those who are responsible – they send young boys to kill us and die for them. They hide behind them. Most of them are young conscripts, they have no choice – and they come to kill us,” she says.
At a self-defense checkpoint outside Lugansk, Katerina serves along with Olesya, leader of a women’s battalion there.
Olesya is married to another rebel serving nearby in the city of Slavyansk.
“This is what happens during wartime. They don’t even ask. They just come to your land. I was just an ordinary woman – I even cook quite well,” she told RT.
Fighting in the war is now part of her life.
“A few days ago I went to a hairdresser and I saw a woman there, a client, was looking at me with her eyes wide open – it turned out I had forgotten to take off my pistol. It happens,” Olesya says.
Katerina and Olesya are far from the only two.
To see what the life of the Women’s Battalion is like, RT’s Maria Finoshina spent a day with them. Watch this and more in her story:
In the meantime, shelling continues in eastern Ukraine. It has been two days since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko terminated the ceasefire between Kiev’s armed forces and anti-government self-defense troops. At least four civilians have been killed as a bus was fired at early in the morning in Kramatorsk on Monday. Even despite the truce, violence still raged across the Lugansk and Donetsk regions.
A cameraman for Russia's Channel One TV station, Anatoly Klyan, 68, fell victim to shelling as he was shot dead in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Sunday.
The country’s national security service said at least 200 people have been killed and another 600 injured since the start of Kiev’s anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine.