'I've never held a gun': Spain trains Ukrainians
STORY: When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Alona felt she must return to defend her homeland.
She'd lived in Spain for 14 years.
Within days she was back there, one of four women among 192 soldiers receiving basic combat training from the Spanish army.
The war is reaching a pivotal point, with Ukraine no longer making the gains it was late last year.
Alona, who is from Lutsk in the Volyn region, is among many Ukrainians who fear there'll be a huge Russian offensive this month to mark the first anniversary of its invasion.
“It’s very hard for my mother and my brother in Madrid. Because they’re very much against what I’m doing. They’re against the fact that I’ve signed up into the army. Because I’ve never held a weapon in my life, I have never done sports. They believe I’m not ready for this."
The five-week course in Toledo is part of the European Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine.
They learn sharpshooting, action against explosive devices, mine clearance and using anti-aircraft weapons.
Alona says it can be gruelling but she has never felt so proud to be Ukrainian.
Chief instructor Captain Carlos Vera:
“The development and learning of the Ukrainian personnel is spectacular. Their motivation allows for great progress. It is what makes them notice the change and that what they are being taught will be very useful and will increase their chances of survival, thanks to their daily instruction and the desire they have.”
Some 24 EU countries have joined the mission, which foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says will have trained 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers by the end of the year.