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Ukrainians concerned but not intimidated by Putin ‘rebel’ plans | Misunderstandings

Kyiv, Ukraine – Living a few miles from the border with the Russian-occupied territories, Ivan Rudenko is no doubt worried that Russian Revolution.

A firefighter and community activist lives in Ukraine new York, a town in southeastern Donetsk, a hotly contested country in Europe.

Since 2014, the war has killed more than 13,000 people, displaced millions – and turned Russian President Vladimir Putin into a political party.

In recent weeks, when Putin reportedly gathered more than 100,000 workers near the Russian-Ukrainian border, Rudenko has been thinking about the consequences of a major war.

“There is a great danger, and when it does, we will be the first to suffer,” he told Al Jazeera.

But his estimation of potential conflict – based on what he has heard from both sides of the border – is 60 percent.

Increasingly, about 46 percent of Ukrainians believe the “escalation” of conflict is possible, while 23 percent deny that it is “doubtful”, according to a Rating Group pollster poll published on December 9.

In June 2020, only 28 percent of Ukrainians saw such an increase as possible, the Rating Group said.

Today, the people of Ukraine have other concerns.

About 70 percent are concerned about rising natural gas prices and global warming and fear of a recession that has made their former Soviet Union one of the poorest countries in Europe, a December 9 survey said.

This is what makes Kateryna Sidorenko, a notary assistant in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, who lives safer than 700km (434 miles) west of the front line, stay awake at night.

Hot water in his three-bedroom house in northern Kyiv has been disrupted, and he has “extra” heating costs of about $ 150 in a country where average wages range from $ 400 to $ 900 a month.

Her daughters have to study for exams, she is busy trying to get ready for Christmas, and traffic jams are paralyzing Kyiv.

So, are they worried about what Putin can or cannot do?

“This is Ukraine, we don’t care. We’ve been at war for almost eight years, we’re used to it,” Sidorenko, 36, told Al Jazeera with a tired smile on his face in the store.

Kyiv’s entertainment is in line with his words.

People are not afraid or eager to try to escape to Europe.

Prices are rising, restaurants and stores are flooding, and consumers seem to be more concerned with prices than the war.

He looks slower than Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“We understand that if there is a major war, there will be thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of victims,” ​​Zelenskyy told reporters after a meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on December 16 in Brussels.

At the summit, Zelenskyy claimed that it was Russia that “pushed” Ukraine to secure NATO membership after Russia began and won a five-day war with the former Soviet Republic of Georgia on the territory of South Ossetia.

NATO has promised to become a member of Georgia and Ukraine.

“We are standing for election,” Stoltenberg said.

National security

This promise is the one that seems to annoy Putin the most; he believes that NATO’s membership of Ukraine will put Russia’s security at risk.

“What do they think – that we do not see these threats? Or do they think we can just watch them do nothing? We have nowhere to go,” Putin told security officials Tuesday.

He had previously said that Crimea “returned” to Russia after the “referendum” – but the election was not recognized by Ukraine or the West. He also refused to support the separatists, saying the conflict was a “civil war”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to the Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov in front of a map of Ukraine at the annual meeting of the board of the Ministry of Defense in Moscow on December 21, 2021 [Mikhail Tereshchenko/Sputnik/AFP]

After taking action in 2014 and 2015, the war turned into a heated debate.

But in recent weeks, separatists have stopped firefighting several times a day, injuring or killing Ukrainian troops, and troops are preparing to step up.

“There is exercise and preparation, but there is no fear,” the military officer told Al Jazeera not to be named because he was not allowed to speak to reporters.

Ordinary people who survived the war, but lost their homes and relatives, also have hope.

“Things are not going well, but it looks like Putin just wants to accept from the West,” Oleh, a former metalworker who fled the city of Luhansk in 2014, told Al Jazeera. He hid his name because he was with relatives living in Luhansk.

He is one of three people in Ukraine who are ready to register to oppose the Russian invasion, according to a study by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology released Friday.

Only 18.6 percent “do nothing”, and at least 10 percent are ready to leave Ukraine, he said.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine was politically and linguistically divided.

The Eastern and Southern regions, where Russian is still widely spoken, drew on Moscow’s cultural and political contexts, while the central and western regions enjoyed communication in Ukrainian and focused on Europe.

Protecting Russian speakers

Russia used the language sector to “protect the rights of Russian-speaking people” by expanding Crimea and supporting separatists.

The move follows Ukraine’s 2014 “Revolution of Dignity”, a series of protests that toppled Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who tried to turn Ukraine into a Moscow-led economic zone known as the rebirth of the USSR.

Western sanctions have not damaged Russia’s economy, but Putin is feeling stigmatized.

Shipping of troops – this year secondly – and threatening words could be his way of attracting Western attention, especially US President Joe Biden, academics and ordinary citizens of Ukraine. to say.

“There has to be a reason for him to tremble, there has to be a discussion, and [Putin] they want the interests of the world’s leaders, ”said Rudenko of New York.

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