in Lviv, with the territorial defense units, “a large pebble in the shoe of the Russians”

It is opposite a socio-cultural center, amid residential buildings in the most populous district of Lviv, the big city in western Ukraine, that Yulia welcomes us. The entrance is guarded by two armed men. “This is the headquarters of our territorial defense unit”announces the young woman of 25, dressed from head to toe in khaki.

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These territorial defense units have spread over the entire Ukrainian territory since the outbreak of the war more than two weeks ago. Reservists, volunteers are mobilizing in every city, every neighborhood to ensure safety. These networks of volunteers collect aid for the soldiers deployed to the front, financed by private donations, prove invaluable to the Ukrainian army and have even become one of the weapons of the Ukrainians involved in the war against the Russians.

It is now in this headquarters that Yulia, normally a marketing manager in a car company” spend his days. “When I’m here it’s because my country needs me. I can be useful to it. I have a gun license and was part of a paramilitary organization for a long time”she says.

The interior of the headquarters of a territorial defense unit in Lviv, where donated equipment from Ukraine and all over Europe is stored.  (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / RADIO FRANCE)

Yulia assures that she will not hesitate to fight if necessary. For the time being, she coordinates the various missions of this unit with 600 people. We train in weapons handling, military tactics, war medicine for those who want to go into battle and we provide them with all the necessary equipment.”lists them, without forgetting the logistical assistance to the fighters at the front.

“We patrol the streets to spot suspicious behavior, for example infiltrated Russians. And we also keep checkpoints all over the city.”

Julia, 25 years old

at franceinfo

In the headquarters, the light stays on all day long: all the windows are blocked by sandbags. Entire rooms are devoted to the storage of medicines, warm clothes, duvets or food that a group of volunteers, all in their twenties, select. “I have been a member of a patriotic organization for ten years that helped the soldiers at the front during the war in the Donbass. We have always supported our fighterssays Yevhenia, a professional psychologist. When this new war broke out, it seemed obvious to me to re-enlist with our army.” And if it is necessary to take up arms, “naturally” that she is ready.

Alex, PhD in economics and volunteer at a territorial unit in Lviv, Ukraine.  (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / RADIO FRANCE)

And the determination is the same with Alex, a doctor of economics. “Territorial defense is a big pebble in the shoe of the Russians. It is like a second wall after the armyhe explains amid the shelves of drugs. All headquarters communicate with each other, we help each other all over the territory. We should not underestimate our role in this conflict, it is immense.” And that’s what he thinks will make the difference in the long run.

Territorial defense units, “a big pebble in the shoes of the Russians” – the report of Sandrine Etoa-Andegue and Fabien Gosset

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