NARVA, Estonia On weekdays, Marju Prosin is a dental saleswoman. But this weekend, the 37 -year-old left her two children at home, pulled on snow tiredness, grabbed a rifle and headed to the frozen woods of Estonia to develop for a guerrilla war.

She joined dozens of other civilians on a snow-covered hillside here for a 36 -hour exercise called the Utria Assault, after a historic Estonian victory over Russia. A whistle blew, and she ran up the hill in the darkness, weighed down by a heavy pack of rations and ammunition. Suddenly, machine gun fire rattled out from the tree line, sending her scrambling for cover.This was a test, one of many Prosin faced over this weekend in January.

She is one of 25,000 members of the Estonian Defense League, a reserve force-out of paramilitary volunteers who are required to keep their rifles oiled and ready. Estonia is on NATOs front line with Russia. The history of the country, which has just 1.3 million citizens, is one of repeated invasion and occupation by larger and more powerful neighbours. It won its independence in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed. Now, with Donald Trump who has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and called NATO obsolete as U.S. president, there is a sense of a shift in the world order that has underpinned the security of Estonia and its fellow Baltic stats, Latvia and Lithuania.

Prosin was among a rush of volunteers who signed up for the EDL after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The size of the league ballooned the following year. There have been similar trends in other former Soviet nations: Lithuania has reintroduced conscription, while Poland is forming a volunteer defense force it hopes will number in the tens of thousands in a couple years. For Estonia and its neighbours, Russias aggression in Ukraine is the latest andmost worrying sign that the Kremlin is flexing its muscles beyond its borders.

We have to be ready for who wants to come and take our little country, Prosin said to The WorldPost. She stood under light snowfall in a stretching of wilderness 10 miles from the Russian perimeter, with an AK-4 slung over her shoulder. We all feel this.

Naomi OLeary/ The WorldPost
A participant in the Utria Assault dressed to look like a victim of an improvised explosive device prepares to take part in a test of first assist abilities. Jan. 13.