Ukraine alleges Russia is planning drone training classes for school kids in occupied regions

Ukraine alleges Russia is planning drone training classes for school kids in occupied regions
  • Russia plans to introduce drone classes in schools in occupied territory, Ukraine alleges.

  • A Ukrainian official said the courses will cover UAV design features and assembly.

  • Drones have played a crucial role for both Russian and Ukrainian forces in the war.

Russia will introduce drone training sessions to schools in occupied areas of Ukraine from September, alleged Ukraine's governor of the Zaporizhzhia region.

"On September 1, 2024, a new subject will be introduced in schools in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine — a course on the management of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)," wrote Ivan Fedorov on Telegram.

"Officially, they may call it 'training,' but in reality, they are preparing young people for murder," he continued, adding that it was "a blatant violation of international law."

It follows a February report by the National Resistance Center of Ukraine, which was set up by Ukraine's Special Operations Forces in the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022, which said Russia planned to teach children in Ukrainian territories "technologies, design features and assembly of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for military purposes."

Fedorov said the Russian plan was to send drones and military personnel to schools to assist with the training.

It is not clear if the potential training sessions would be for all children or for specific age groups.

International humanitarian law prohibits recruiting and using children under the age of 15 in armed conflicts, and doing so is considered a war crime, according to the UN's Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Drones have played a crucial role for both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries in the war so far, and they have been used for a wide variety of operations, including reconnaissance, guiding artillery, and carrying out airstrikes.

Defense One reported that Russia had set up a training center in occupied Ukraine to train both Russian military and civilian drone operators for combat.

Civilians who undergo training at the center in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine do not officially join the military, it noted, citing the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty.

A 2023 report by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab found that at least 6,000 children from Ukraine had been put through what it called Russian "re-education" camps that aimed at making them "more pro-Russia in their personal and political views."

The report said that children at some of the 43 camps had been given firearms training, although there appeared to be no evidence that the children had been sent to fight.

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