Russian military approves return of Soviet-era school military training – reports

Russian Defense Ministry backs restoration of Soviet-era basic military training in high schools, pro-Kremlin media say reported Tuesday, citing correspondence between lawmakers and military officers.

Russia withdrew the so-called “initial military training” program – which taught teenagers how to react to a nuclear or chemical attack, provide first aid and handle firearms – in 1993. Several try to revive the course of the years that followed has so far failed to gain traction.

Sergei Mironov, the leader of the Just Russia party and a staunch supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is the latest figure to champion the reintroduction of basic military training in high schools.

“Adding this subject would systematically prepare citizens for a possible confrontation with the enemy,” he told the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia.

Mironov won the support of Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov, who said his ministry would support legislative proposals to restore basic education in high school, according to Izvestia.

Gerasimov suggested that schools allocate at least 140 hours of basic training for 10th and 11th graders, Izvestia reported, citing his letter endorsing Mironov’s proposal.

Both also agreed that the classes should be taught by veterans.

It was not immediately clear how quickly Russian lawmakers planned to relaunch basic education classes, but Mironov’s colleagues from other political parties in parliament expressed unanimous support for his proposal.

The Russian Ministry of Education is also holding public discussions about its legal act which adds elements of primary military training, including the handling of firearms, to an existing course known as “basic health and safety”.

Teachers, meanwhile, told Izvestia that the Russian school curriculum was already overloaded with other new subjects, although they supported the idea.

Russian schools have already added the invasion of Ukraine to the history curriculum for 10th and 11th graders starting this school year. Russia officially calls the war a “special military operation” and denies the atrocities it is accused of committing in Ukraine.

Younger students are required to attend weekly patriotic classes called “Important Conversations.” Parents, teachers and lawyers have expressed deep concern over what they criticize as state efforts to rally support for the war among children.

At universities, the Kremlin plans to overhaul humanities education with an ideological course on the “foundations and principles of the Russian state” by March 2023, according to a separate report published by the daily Kommersant on Tuesday.

The course is part of the Kremlin’s “Russian DNA” project which aims to shape Russian ideology around five core values, which the publication defines as patriotism, trust in public institutions, social harmony, traditional families and “personal creation”.

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