(Miami Herald) Days after Russia took over Crimea last year, Ukrainian teenager “Maley” contacted his local army recruitment office to sign up. His calls went unanswered for weeks, so he went to the front with his grandfather’s hunting rifle and a brass plate bought by his mother taped to his chest as protection. He joined one of the dozens of volunteer battalions that have made history by holding the line against the Russian incursion.
“I went to save my country,” he said in a recent interview in a Kiev hospital. He was wounded after the army medic behind him stepped on a landmine and lost both her legs. “She wasn’t paying attention. I’m going back.”
Ukraine has been abused by Russia since declaring independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has staged two revolutions — one in 2004 and another in 2014 – to get out from under Russian puppets. After the last one fled back to Russia, the country’s army was virtually defenseless and the Russian incursion has only been stopped thanks to tens of thousands of volunteer soldiers and tens of thousands more citizens working tirelessly to raise money for medicines, equipment and to serve in non-combat roles. They busk for donations or erect tents on town squares to solicit financial help and raise the war’s profile. […]
According to Dmitry Gorenburg, with Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Ukraine had 80,000 troops and fewer than 1,000 artillery pieces, but its combat-ready force was a mere 6,000.
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