Russia turns to priest to teach children how to fly drones in Church school

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Russia is now turning to school-age children to improve their chances of victory in Ukraine after Vladimir Putin’s hope for a swift win completely collapsed.

The Kremlin is confirmed to have now hired a priest to teach students at a Church school in the Krasnodar region how to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat.

Orthodox priest Igor Biryukov told Russian outlet Lenta that the training programme will teach pupils how to fly drones and will use technical simulators to help the youngsters familiarise themselves with the vehicles.

Biryukov said: “So far we have five laptops for general practice and three laptops for drone practice.

“There is also a fleet of drones. But our logistics will improve as donations come in. We intend to improve our inventory.

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“The amount of hardware will also expand. I think that in the future we will acquire the so-called all-terrain drones.”

Biryukov’s new school opened earlier this month to the children of parishioners in the city of Prochnookopskaya, 355km east of the city of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.

The launch of the new training programme comes weeks after the Kremlin announced students in high school would need to attend mandatory drone training.

They will be expected to learn how to operate the vehicles as well as how to use them for reconnaissance.

First Deputy Minister of Defense Ruslan Tsalikov said over the summer that the new training programme had received the go-ahead from the Russian Ministry of Education, and would teach students the fundamentals “terrain reconnaissance and enemy unmanned aerial vehicle combat methods.”

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Russia had previously announced schools would implement new courses on how to use assault rifles and hand grenades.

The British Defence Ministry said in an intelligence report that the new programme would allow Putin to cut down on training times as the Russian Army struggles to maintain troops number amid a high turnaround.

They said that the training would serve three principal purposes: “To indoctrinate students with the Kremlin rationale for the ‘Special Military Operation’, instil students with a martial mindset, and reduce training timelines for onwards mobilisation and deployment.”

Putin has been struggling to recruit and sufficiently train enough men to keep his war in Ukraine going.

Since his Army failed to deliver on its initial goals in 2022, the Russian President has been changing conscription regulations in order to maintain control of the frontline.

In July, Putin announced the maximum age of conscription would increase to 30 from 2024, meaning anyone aged 18 and above will have to serve at least one year in the army.

Conscripts will also be forbidden from leaving Russia from the day after they receive their summons.

The bill also granted regional governors the power to establish local paramilitary units when martial law is in place.

And last month he increased fines to 30,000 rubles for conscripts who fail to show up at an enlistment office once they have their papers.

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