In Kyiv, A Soldier’s Funeral and Oath of defiance

KYIV, Ukraine – At a fir-tree-lined cemetery in central Kyiv, mourners paid their last respects on Tuesday to Captain Anton Sidorov, who was arrayed in his army. in the coffin.

“Pride for Ukraine!” said one of Mr. Sidorov’s comrades. “Glory to the heroes!” came to the dignified response of the funeral procession, including dozens of soldiers.

Captain Sidorov, 35, was killed Saturday in eastern Ukraine, near the front line separating government-held territory from Moscow-backed separatist regions. He was one of the first casualties in the escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine that prompted President Vladimir V. Putin to recognize the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine on Monday, opening way for the dispatch of Russian troops to the land.

The funeral reflected the dual emotions that swept through Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, as Putin received approval to use force from his Parliament, raising anticipation of war against Ukraine. People in Kyiv are quiet but defiant. They have been preparing for a possible military escalation by Russia for months, with many civilians joining territorial defense units around the country and receiving military training.

On Tuesday morning, the day after Mr Putin gave a threatening speech in which he smeared Ukraine’s history and threatened “bloodshed”, there were lines outside recruitment centers.

But on the streets and on social media, everyday life is almost as normal. There is no rampant panic buying in grocery stores or queuing at ATMs. Public figures and celebrities have taken to social media to express pride in their country in the undisputed belief of being on the right side of history.

“Fear and panic are a mad dwarf’s best allies!” TV presenter Yuri Gorbunov wrote on Facebook, one of many that tried to disparage Mr Putin rather than express fear in front of his mighty army.

However, some Ukrainians are still quietly coming up with contingency plans. Some Kyiv residents have dropped their pets at animal shelters as they prepare to leave the city for western Ukraine or abroad. Many others made arrangements to defend their country. Several military and hunting stores in the city said they were out of weapons.

Serhiy Kolisnyk, 45, who was wounded while fighting Russian-backed separatists in the coastal city of Mariupol in 2015, said: “We are keeping our composure and have our guns ready.

“We know what the possible means of attack are and we will join the armed forces when called upon,” Kolisnyk said as he sat with two veterans by a memorial wall. sacrifice.

Artur Savoisky, owner of Pyata Varta, an arms shop in central Kyiv, describes what he calls “a lot of uproar” in recent days.

“People are buying weapons mainly for their security, for self-defense, to protect their homes,” he said.

His shop still had some ammunition left, as he had stocked it months ago.

Putin’s full plans for the Russian military remain unclear. However, Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, appears to be preparing his soldiers for escalation in a statement released by the military on Tuesday.

“Ahead will be a difficult challenge,” said Mr. Reznikov. “There will be losses. You will have to go through the pain and overcome the fear and despair.”

Many Ukrainians say they refuse to let Putin’s lies and fallacies intimidate them.

“Everything is fine,” said Eugene Okhrimenko, 33, a financial analyst in Kyiv, noting that Ukrainians have had to live under the specter of the Russian threat since 2014, when Moscow advanced launched a separatist invasion in the East and annexed Crimea. “There’s a lot of anger, but not panic.”

Many Ukrainians expressed frustration at the lack of reaction from within Russia to Mr. Putin’s fiery speech, in which he said Ukraine was “made by Russia” and lamented the country’s failure to do so. independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“I cannot explain the silence on the part of my friends and colleagues from ‘brother’ Russia,” wrote Pavlo Varenytsa, head of Epolets, a band from the southern city of Odessa, on Facebook. .

“Your silence affects everyone – us, you, the whole world,” he wrote. “Your silence is a bullet aimed at all of us. As long as you keep quiet, evil deeds are done by your hands.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has managed to maintain a somewhat measured tone in the face of Putin’s enthusiasm.

“We believe that there will be no violent war against Ukraine and there will be no large-scale escalation on the part of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said on Tuesday. He said that he still believes that the situation can be resolved diplomatically.

Some Ukrainians appreciate Mr Zelensky’s maturity but hope to see their president come up with more concrete plans.

Olha Reshetylova, a human rights communications coordinator, said: “I would like to hear more determination from the president, an action plan for the nation.

“But ultimately, I understand that we need to leave space to maneuver, and any rough words, or even more actions, will greatly reduce the space,” she added. “The main thing is not to make serious mistakes.”

In Kyiv on Tuesday, the sun was already bright and spring seemed to be near. But war, and Putin’s threats to their country, suddenly seemed inevitable.

“I had him in my dreams!” Fruit seller Maryna Kovalenko talks about the snob Russian leader. “Of course it’s worrisome. We have children here. He won’t stop.”

One of her customers, Vira Zavadska, approached to buy some fruit.

“It was inevitable, we always knew it,” she told Kovalenko. “My daughter told me to leave, but how can I live without our Ukraine? The war has been here for eight years, and people are dying. “

“I’m so sorry for our sons,” she added, alluding to Monday’s deaths of two Ukrainian soldiers.

“I just wish Putin died.”

At Captain Sidorov’s funeral, one of his soldiers said he and his colleagues were not at all worried by the growing prospect of a military attack.

“I am ready to return to active duty or to be deployed to defend the territory,” said the man who gave his military nickname, Hopak. “We’re all like that.”

Maria Varennikovacontribution report. In Kyiv, A Soldier’s Funeral and Oath of defiance

Fry Electronics Team

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