Ukrainians are particularly relaxed about the buildup of Russian troops

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MeN THE SNOW-BLANKETED The town of Vov Chancek in eastern Ukraine. With 20,000 people living just five minutes by car from the Russian border, Sergei Sergienko cites his hardships. With less work, he needs to leave at 5 am and do construction work in the nearest city, Kharkov. Kharkov earns 700 hryvnia ($ 25) a day. His father is recovering after covid-19 hospitalized him. Russian troops could cross the border into Ukraine on Sergienko’s list. “I try not to get overwhelmed by the worries of war. Without war, there are enough problems,” he says. Besides, he adds by shrugging, which is out of his control.

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Ukraine is deeply wary of threats to Its independenceSo, seeing about 100,000 Russian troops on the border, and Vladimir Putin, Russian President, about “military technical” actions. Things aren’t that simple. The Ukrainians have survived an eight-year war with Russian-backed troops in a separate “republic” of Donetsk and Luhansk that claimed the lives of 13,000 people. But they have also lived through rhetorical twists and turns, the creation and destruction of stall fires, and the myriad predictions of horror that normally never came. In such a world, skepticism is a form of wisdom.

According to the Kiev Institute for International Sociology, a polling agency, a small majority of Ukrainians believe that invasion is likely. Guessing the shape it might take is a creepy game for some. Hackers could launch cyber attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. Armies could reach Kiev and expel the government or occupy all the land east of the Dnieper River, which divides the country. Perhaps Putin is chasing the land that connects Russia and Crimea. Maybe he wants to keep Russian-speaking cities like Odessa and Kharkov away from Ukraine. Or maybe it’s all a trick. If Putin decides on a plan, he gives nothing.

The dynamics of efforts to avoid war are similar to those of hostage negotiations. Russia is pointing its guns at Ukraine, but is directing a request announced in the United States on December 17.These include the Ukrainian bans that have participated so far NATO, And for the alliance, we are training further on the territory of Ukraine. Putin seems ready to send troops to fight and die in Ukraine if the negotiations break down. There is no such tendency on the west side. And the final donation of Western weapons does not correct the mismatch between Ukrainian and Russian troops.

Nevertheless, Ukrainian I hope the war is happening about their lives. Serhii Kolisnyk, That Kiev expert. His house has a packed bag that you can go out right away. Winter and summer uniforms, military uniforms, and he saidNATO Bullet “— A 5.56mm cartridge from Lithuania, the Alliance’s standard ammunition. The gunshot wound on Kolisnyk’s chest since 2015, when he was fighting in Donetsk, proves his integrity. But for now, he’s focused on his work. “If you don’t, you’ll be absorbed in your thoughts and you won’t be able to accomplish much,” he says.

The puzzles of how to prepare for war without bothering yourself are collective. In Kiev, the streets and markets are busy. Nightly news channels rarely worry about war. However, preparations are underway and may not always be smooth. In the capital’s Hipper area, old air raid shelters that have become fashionable bars and cafes must be prepared to become shelters again. A three-minute test of Kiev sirens was scheduled for December 29, before authorities postponed indefinitely the day before.Inadequately presented plans to order women of certain useful professions such as That Enrolling in the army has caused confusion, internet memes, and petitions for viruses to blame it.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky does not exactly unify the countries behind him. Opinion polls show that few voters fantasize about him as a wartime leader. It may explain why the struggle with his political opponents did not stop. The president predicted that an oligarchy-led coup against him would not materialize in early December. On December 20, his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, was charged with treason on suspicion of paying for coal supplied from the occupied Ukrainian territories. (He denies cheating.)

It is not only the ghosts of war that plague Ukraine, but also the ghosts of new peace with new politics. Since the 2014 Revolution, Ukraine has sought to reform its economy and army and strengthen the rule of law. One motive was the temptation of membership NATO And that EUAsk the applicant for spruce before joining. But Russia’s invasion, or a desperate compromise to avoid it, can create a climate in which Ukrainians no longer believe that Western dreams are possible. It may stall reforms.

Ukrainian politicians want to take responsibility for their destiny. However, their desire to put many of them into the West urged the Kremlin to dismiss them as dolls that did not deserve direct communication. In an article published in October, former Russian Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev provided a preview of the administration’s negotiation strategy. Business must be done with the overlord. Russia and the United States have agreed to bilateral talks scheduled for January 9-10. There are no Ukrainians in the room.

This makes it difficult for Zelensky to keep the catchphrase “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine”. His government claims that the negotiations are okay, and Western countries claim that they are always in talks. However, Mr. Zelensky may feel the same helplessness as Mr. Sergienko of Volchancek. ■■

This article was published in the European section of the printed version under the heading “Keep calm.”

Ukrainians are particularly relaxed about the buildup of Russian troops

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