September 27, 2022

Ukrainians in Kyiv Seem Unconcerned About The Possibility Of Russian Invasion

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As word of the most bleak White House briefing on Ukraine broke late Friday evening in Kyiv, the clubs and restaurants were as packed as any other Friday night, the mood remained upbeat, and anyone without access to a Twitter feed would have struggled to discern any feeling of impending doom.

While US officials and the Washington media briefed by them predicted an oncoming “horrific, murderous” campaign against Ukraine, hardly one in Kyiv was paying much attention to what appeared to many in Kyiv to be the latest in a long line of apocalyptic briefings.

The streets of Kyiv, where light snow fell, felt like a parallel reality as staff at Washington thinktanks wrote of a brutal campaign to be started this weekend – one that would deprive Ukraine of power and heating, as well as take out the army’s top command.

Of fact, beneath the placid surface, many Ukrainians are planning contingency preparations, some to repel an invasion, others to leave to safer areas. In the city, it is impossible to purchase an electricity generator, and many people contemplate what they would do if the worst happened.

In the case of a Russian air strike, cellars, metro stations, and even strip clubs have been suggested as viable bomb shelters.

Thousands of Ukrainians marched in central Kyiv on Saturday, brandishing Ukrainian flags and banners that said “We will resist” and “Invaders must die.” However, by the standards of a city used to massive rallies, the throng of few thousand was tiny, reflecting a weariness with the persistent, nagging danger of war.

“If Putin believes he can destroy Ukraine, he’s making a terrible mistake,” said Andriy Tyshko, who was marching with his infant daughter.

Iryna Kuprienko, who went out on a walk near the protest, said she couldn’t figure out what all the hoopla was about. “We all know Putin is capable of terrible things, but he’s not crazy enough to try to attack Kyiv.”

The rising tension is becoming harder to ignore as other embassies announced the departure of most diplomatic employees and warned civilians to leave soon or risk becoming trapped. Concerned consular personnel in Kyiv called American nationals in the city on Friday evening, advising them to leave immediately.

However, for many people in this country, the concept of a full-fledged invasion remains far-fetched and unrealistic. Many Ukrainians, including the president, say they are well aware of the threat posed by Russia, but they are skeptical of American claims that the threat is imminent.

“I’m starting to become irritated with this,” one former Ukrainian MP, who did not want to be identified, said. “I am a strong supporter of the West, but the way this invasion news is being spread reminds me of [unverified allegations on] Russian Telegram channels about nameless sources and backstage information.”

“The media frenzy is incredibly irritating, and you begin to lose faith in your own administration, which is simply encouraging us to be calm.”

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