Ukrainian children play in villages destroyed by Russia while mimicking the war.

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When kids are surrounded by war, it’s no surprise they act out what they see. 

“We want to be soldiers when we grow up. We’ll become army men,” 6-year-old Valentyn. He told CBS News that he and his friend Andrii want to protect what’s left of their Ukrainian neighborhood after Russian forces destroyed most of it.

The boys have dug trenches, created missile launchers out of scrap pieces of wood and have learned to salute.

This is more than kids “playing pretend,”Andrii, Valentyn and many others have seen their village attacked by military tank and have family members who won’t ever return home. 

They are likely to experience the most severe trauma in their early years through violent games and make-believe.

“Putin and his little soldiers should never set their feet in our town again. Our Ukrainians already demolished them,”The little boy replied. 

Andrii and his family fled to safety in bunkers after the Russian invasion of their village outside of Kyiv. They were kept alive, but not protected against the worst that humanity can do.