Russia’s playgrounds are becoming parade grounds. At schools from the Pacific to the Black Sea, children in nursery grade don uniforms and take part in marching practice. Older kids are being taught how to dig trenches, throw grenades and shoot with real ammunition.

In schools across the country, service in the armed forces is being glorified, “voluntary companies” of teenagers are being formed and the national curriculum is being changed to emphasize defense of the motherland.

In short, Russia’s children are being prepared for war.

The militarization of Russia’s public schools has intensified since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, driven not by a spontaneous surge of patriotic feeling, but by the government in Moscow.

The investment is huge. Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov said recently that there are now about 10,000 so-called “military-patriotic” clubs in Russian schools and colleges, and a quarter-of-a-million people take part in their work.

These clubs are part of a multi-pronged effort that includes a radical overhaul of the school curriculum. There are mandatory classes on military-patriotic values; updated history books accentuate Russian military triumphs.

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