The Crimea Sich is a military-patriotic training camp for young Cossacks set in the canyon of medieval fortress town of Eski-Kerman. Cossack children as young as seven are sent to there for a minimal cost. Daily activities include target shooting and the hand-to-hand fighting of Kadochnikova, as well as an equally intensive Russian Orthodox “spiritual training” program.

When Russian photographer Maxim Dondyuk went to photograph the Crimea Sich, his first impression of the severe, almost Samurai-style training camp was negative. “But after two weeks in the camp,” he says, “I changed my mind. I realize that they grow defenders of the motherland.”

Dondyuk’s sympathetic attitude towards the program is evident in his photos of the Crimea Sich’s gorgeous mountainous nature where children learn to kill.