Russian sooldiers
In several regions of Russia, the national curriculum has been changed, allowing many children to be conditioned by the military and Russian authorities at school. AFP News/Alexander NEMENOV

In several regions of Russia, the national curriculum has been changed, allowing many children to be conditioned by the military and Russian authorities at school.

The decision comes after the Russian authorities used propaganda to emphasise the protection of the motherland and the glorified Russian Armed Forces.

The young children, some in nursery-grade uniforms, are taking part in a marching practice, and those older than 12 are being taught how to dig trenches, throw grenades and shoot live ammunition.

However, a CNN survey that investigated the new curriculum in Russia, found that children as young as seven in the western city Belgorod, are receiving basic military training.

The training included forming call signs, with one child giving himself the nickname "sledgehammer", and exercises centred around using automatic weapons, tackling an obstacle course and assembling machine guns.

In the city of Krasnodar, located in the western region of Russia, small children were seen to be involved in a marching practice while wearing army uniforms and clutching faux automatic weapons.

The government in Moscow are behind the militarisation of state schools, encouraging adolescents to view Ukraine as the nation's sworn enemy.

The Education Ministry in Russia told reporters that the students who are being taught to fire real ammunition, are doing so "under the guidance of experienced military unit officers or instructors exclusively at the firing line".

Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov spoke to reporters about the huge investment that sets out to turn children into soldiers. Kravtsov said that there are around ten thousand "military-patriotic" facilities in schools and colleges across the country.

The Education Minister also claimed that the children taking part in the detrimental activities are doing so on their own accord and without any outside influence.

Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the government have also implemented mandatory classes that highlight military values and patriotism. Russian history books have also been altered, to accentuate radical beliefs and the relentless Russian Armed Forces.

Russian textbooks have been adapted to contain false information about Ukraine and patriotic messages.

The modern textbook, 'History of Russia', which is easily attained by children and teenagers in schools and colleges, has been adapted to include a chapter that focuses on the recent history of Ukraine's relationship with the nation. The front cover, which now depicts the Crimea Bridge, has also been changed.

The Russian government have also ordered that the following sections, 'Falsification of history', 'Revival of Nazism', 'Ukrainian neo-Nazism', and 'Russia is a country of heroes', be included in the textbook.

The book, which is used to teach thousands of children, claims that Ukraine "openly declared its desire to acquire nuclear weapons", together with, "unprecedented sanctions have been introduced against Russia since the West is trying in every way to bring down the Russian economy".

None of which are true.

Last month, in August 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that introduced a new mandatory course in schools. The law was dubbed 'Fundamentals of Security and Defense of the Motherland'.

President Putin has also repeatedly referred to the brutal invasion of Ukraine as a "special mission" that intends to protect Russian nationals from Ukraine.

Putin has also continued to falsely frame Ukrainian nationals as "neo-Nazis", convincing his followers that their enemy has threatened a genocide.

On behalf of the Education Ministry, Kravtsov continues to promote the courses to the public, encouraging parents and guardians to allow their children the opportunity to take part in military units, "military sports games, meetings with military personnel and veterans". Sources also note that the group will receive lessons on drone attacks.

Despite the new law being put in place in 2024, according to Kravtsov, there are already around a quarter of a million people taking part in the new curriculum.

Important Stories, an independent Russian media outlet that uncovered several Education Ministry documents, revealed that the program has been created to provide the youngsters with "an understanding and acceptance of the aesthetics of military uniforms, military rituals and combat traditions".