Siap Perang, Pemuda Ukraina Berbondong-bondong Daftar Jadi Tentara
Young Men in Kiev were Queuing to Sign Up for the Army
Editor : Cahyani Harzi
Translator : Dhelia Gani
Kiev (B2B) - Memang belum ada perang di Ukraina namun karena Krimea masih panas, maka para pemuda Ukraina di Kiev antre mendaftar jadi tentara untuk sedia mengangkat senjata jika terjadi perang dengan Rusia.
"Saya ingin turut berperang," kata Roman Surzhikov, insinyur yang juga tentara cadangan berusia 33 tahun.
"Apakah mereka (pemerintah) sudah mengumumkan mobilisasi umum?" tanya dia kepada perempuan di bagian penerimaan pendaftaran.
Semenanjung Krimea kini secara de facto berada dalam kendali pasukan pro-Kremlin setelah Presiden Rusia Vladimir Putin merasa berhak mengirimkan tentara ke wilayah otonomi di Ukraina yang mayoritas penduduknya berbahasa Rusia tersebut. Dia membantah tentara Rusia beroperasi di sana.
"Jelas intervensi telah berlangsung di Krimea dan bukan mustahil akan ada juga intervensi serupa di wilayah Ukraina," kata Surzhikov, seperti dilansir Yahoo News.
Tayangan televisi memperlihatkan antrean panjang rekrutmen tentara, namun kementerian pertahanan Ukraina menolak menyebutkan sudah berapa banyak pemuda yang mendaftar jadi tentara karena itu adalah rahasia.
Yang jelas, karena membludaknya antrean menjadi tentara, kantor rekrutmen tentara di Kiev pusat telah menutup pendaftaran sampai Kamis esok.
Volodymyr Bykovski yang juga bekerja di sini dan ikut mendaftar jadi tentara, mengonfirmasi bahwa dia menyaksikan kaum muda maupun tua tumpah mendaftar jadi tentara.
"Kebanyakan dari mereka datang atas inisiatif mereka sendiri ketimbang dari seruan pemerintah," kata dia.
"Banyak yang kecewa karena mereka kira mobilisasi sudah berlangsung namun kami katakan kepada mereka untuk menunggu, bahwa kami akan memanggil mereka suatu waktu nanti".
Tidak hanya individu, perusahaan-perusahaan Ukraina juga berpartisipasi dengan membantu kelengkapan peralatan perang.
Dibandingkan Rusia yang memiliki 845 ribu tentara, angkatan bersenjata Ukraina hanya berkekuatan seperenam jumlah tentara Rusia dengan wahana perang yang banyak ketinggalan zaman.
"Rakyat sebenarnya takut dan saya juga takut, namun ini harus dilakukan, ini kewajiban kami," kata Bykovski.
Patriotisme juga menggelora dari dada Dmytro Gerzhan (42) yang hanya meninggalkan nomor kontaknya kepada petugas rekrutmen.
"Jika situasi berkembang menjadi lebih rumit, siapa yang tahu perkembangan akan berubah seperti apa, apa yang akan dilakukan Rusia nanti, kami harus siap bergabung," kata dia.
Sementara itu pemuda berusia 23 tahun bernama Arthur terdorong mendaftar karena kenangan terbunuhnya 100 demonstran di Lapangan Merdeka, Kiev, bulan lalu.
"Setelah kejadian itu, akan memalukan jika tidak pergi (untuk mendaftar jadi tentara)," kata sang mahasiswa. "Jika Putin memutuskan untuk memulai perang melawan saudara sebangsa, orang-orang sudah siap untuk membela negaranya."
Kiev - There may not be any fighting in Ukraine yet but as tensions ratchet up in Crimea, young men in Kiev were queuing to sign up for the army, ready to take up arms if it comes to a war with Russia.
"I want to take part in the fight," said Roman Surzhikov, a 33-year-old engineer and army reservist, one of a steady stream of people going into an army recruitment centre in the city centre on Tuesday, despite a "closed" sign outside.
"Have they declared a general mobilisation yet?" he asked the woman at reception.
Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea has been under the de facto control of pro-Kremlin forces in recent days, while President Vladimir Putin has reserved the right to send troops into the autonomous but mainly Russian-speaking region. He denies claims that Russian soldiers are already operating there.
"It's obvious an intervention is under way in Crimea and it's not impossible there will also be one on Ukrainian territory," Surzhikov told AFP as he explained why he wanted to enlist.
"I can't say I look forward to it, but if there is going to be a war, it's my duty. We have to defend the country," he said, adding that "10 million men are prepared to take up arms."
For now, he was told to just come back in a few days and leave his details. So far, only some Ukrainian army reservists are being called up and he was not one of them.
The Ukrainian army was put on alert over the weekend after Russia's parliament gave Putin permission to send troops into Ukraine, a former Soviet state.
In response, the head of Ukraine's national security and defence council Andriy Parubiy announced on Sunday that Kiev was to call up all military reservists, a move he said was to "ensure the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine".
While short of a general mobilisation, the announcement nevertheless drew hundreds of young men across the country eager to do their bit.
Television footage showed long queues in front of recruitment centres. The defence ministry declined to tell AFP how many had actually signed up, saying the information was top secret.
- 'Ready to defend our country' -
Faced with more volunteers than it could take, the recruitment office in central Kiev decided to shut its doors until Thursday.
Volodymyr Bykovski, who works at the office and has already been signed up himself, confirmed he had seen an influx of keen men -- young and old -- since the weekend.
"Most of them came on their own initiative" rather than being called up, he said, smoking a cigarette outside the centre, which was topped by the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag.
"Many are disappointed because they thought a mobilisation was already under way but we're still telling them to wait, that we'll call them when it's time."
Not just individuals but companies have stepped forward -- for example with computer equipment -- to help a Ukrainian army that has seen better days.
Compared to Russia's military force of some 845,000 troops, the armed forces here have six times fewer soldiers and their equipment is mostly outdated.
With this in mind, "people are scared of course, and I too am scared," said Bykovski. "But it has to be done, it's our duty."
This sense of patriotism in the face of stiff odds was shared by Dmytro Gerzhan, 42, who had just left his contact details with the recruitment office.
"If the situation gets more complicated -- who knows how things will develop, what Russia will do -- we have to join up," he said.
At another recruitment centre, Arthur said he was spurred to sign up by the memory of the nearly 100 protestors killed in the violence in Kiev's Independence Square which preceded the ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych late last month.
"After what happened... it would be shameful not to go (and sign up)," the 23-year-old student said.
"I think it will all be resolved peacefully because the whole world is backing Ukraine and Ukraine has the truth on its side," he said.
"But if Putin decides to start a war against a brother nation, a lot of men will be ready to defend the country."