Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Russia’s military is recruiting children and teens in occupied territories of Ukraine into its Young Army program which seeks to brainwash, militarize and even to force them into contributing to the Russian war effort against their own country, according to non-governmental organizations monitoring the group’s activities.
Through social media posts and sources on the ground, the NGOs have tracked the formation of the child militarized group in occupied regions, which they fear is intended to indoctrinate pro-war rhetoric into the minds of Russia’s youngest victims and strip them away from their identity in the process. The NGOs believe that the invading country is preparing Ukrainian children in occupied areas for a future career in the Kremlin’s military, bringing an initiative that began seven years ago to the frontlines of the war.
Evidence gathered by Ukrainian groups suggests that the children are pressured to join the Young Army, where they are taught to effectively become Russians. Preparations are already underway to design programs to decondition these Ukrainian kids if the military is ever able to re-capture the occupied territories from Russian control.