This Is What 10 Ukrainians And Russians Think About The Standoff Between Their Countries

“The path to the future is difficult, but it is also bright.”

1. Ilia D., Kiev

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

“I participated in the protests, but, unfortunately, not every day. I participated because of the escalation of force against the citizens of Ukraine, because of corruption, because of lawlessness. Did I think that a revolution like this could happen? In theory, I knew something like this might happen, but I didn’t think that the protests against thieving forces, against lawlessness and corruption, could lead to the mass shooting of peaceful civilians and law enforcement bodies, or to the military invasion of Russian troops in Crimea, which is the territory of Ukraine. I remember when force was first used by Berkut [riot police] — it became clear that the government wasn’t going to give up.”

2. Andrey C., Kiev

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

“I was born and raised in Kiev, in a typical apartment block in [the neighborhood of] Syrets, opposite the monument to victims of the Nazis. We had a very friendly apartment block, where Russians, Jews, Armenians, Ukrainians, and Uzbeks lived. Our parents took turns walking us. We were friends, we visited one another, we never espoused any animosity, and it would never have occurred to any of us to insult each other’s nationality. That’s how we we were raised. Now the Russian media calls us fascists and extremists. And they call us that because we went out and expressed dissatisfaction with our government. With recent events, my attitude toward Putin is extremely negative. To me, he’s the fascist. But I regard Russia and Russian culture with respect and even love. Many of my friends are Russian and many of them also don’t support Putin’s politics.”

3. Kristina M., Crimea

Dmitry Bondarenko

“Crimeans and people in the southeast of our country have primarily stayed uninvolved in the events in Kiev. The idea of the protests may have been justified, but the results were not worth it. I’ve been watching a lot of the videos on the internet and I think these notorious events were provoked. I think law enforcement was being professional and just doing their jobs, and that, as a result, they have been portrayed as murderers. For the most part, Crimeans are unhappy with the way Kiev achieved power — we had no involvement in any of it. All of this has created an uproar in what is usually the most peaceful region of Ukraine.”

4. Viktor K., Kiev

Stoyan Nenov / Reuters

“I realize Putin is one of the richest people on our planet, but he is rich only in money; not in simple human values, kindness or benevolence. For me, Russia is Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Sakharov, and many other wonderful and incredible human minds. I am sure that if ordinary Russians had access to as many documents belonging to Putin Putin and his entourage as we do to Yanukovych and his henchmen here in Ukraine, I think they would be horrified at how they are being cheated and used. But I don’t want to lay blame solely on the government. We, the citizens, are to blame for a lot of what happened, because for so long we ignored and didn’t monitor the people who came to power. We sold our votes for money or buckwheat, it’s just awful, and it was.”

5. Dimitri B., Crimea

Stringer / Reuters

“Regarding Ukraine, you can already see a sad trend developing. The protesters may lie to us again and steer us towards a new ruling elite group, just one with a different name. Regarding the Crimean conflict — Crimeans who express a desire to merge with Russia have one simple option: pack a suitcase and head to Russia. All of these “theatrics” will not last much longer, believe me. The elections for a new president in Ukraine are on May 25 and there will be a focus on the interests and employment of ordinary people.”

6. Julia A., Moscow

Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

“I’m Russian but I have some relatives and friends in Ukraine (Kiev, Kharkiv). I don’t want to see any troops in Ukraine, as I think that Ukrainians should cope with their inner problems on their own. I want Russian troops to be at their bases. The Russian economy is close to a new crisis and it’s a kind of madness to do the things that Putin does. Although, our propaganda machine is still OK and people are ready to support any of Putin’s decisions. I’m ashamed with all this stuff and my country.”

7. Kirill S., Kiev

David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

“I personally know a lot of people who live in Crimea: Tatars, Russians, Ukrainians. They all speak Russian, and none of them feel like second-class citizens. Putin began to illegally send troops, ostensibly on the grounds that he is trying to protect its Russian citizens. Our guys didn’t respond to this provocation, and so there was no attack. I’m proud of my people, because they’re standing against that which they once feared. I also want to add that the Russian media keeps talking about how much we hate Russians. That’s a total lie. Putin is trying to create animosity between us with the help of the government and media.”

8. Gleb S., Moscow

Konstantin Chernichkin / Reuters

“The developments in Ukraine are quite incredible. A few months ago, the idea of the protesters at Maidan getting Yanukovych to resign seemed hard to believe, yet it happened. I’m happy the people have achieved some change, but I think now there are new problems that need to urgently be addressed. But regarding the war, which many predict will happen in the near future, The Federation Council approved the deployment of troops but I’m sure there will not actually be any armed fighting. Vladimir Putin is a calculating politician, and I think he wants to “compromise” and have a real conversation with one of the potential presidential candidates of Ukraine and the result of these negotiations has benefits for both parties.”

9. Marina P., Luhansk, Ukraine

Stringer / Reuters

“Many people wonder what Putin has to gain from Crimea. I think there are many reasons. 1) To destabilize the situation in the country and mess up the impending presidential elections. 2) To destroy Crimea as a resort town which is in direct competition with Sochi, in which Putin invested a lot of money. 3) To avoid the possibility of having the Russian navy base run out of Crimea. 4) To secure his imperial influence on Ukraine. Ukraine’s army is weak and can’t provide fitting retaliation to potential aggression. That’s why I ask all countries of the world to react towards Russia’s military intervention. Help us regain our independence and our right to choose our destinies!”

10. Yaroslav T., Kiev

Konstantin Chernichkin / Reuters

“I wanted to participate in the protests more but I didn’t want my parents to worry, and if not for that, I may not even be here. I stood on Grushevskovo and saw grenade explosions. I really wanted to stand until the end. Putin is a tyrant and treats his people poorly. The Russians are our brothers and it’s not their fault they have such a bad leader. We fought World War II together, and now another world war might begin. The first step to avoid this is to remove Putin from power and for the Ukrainian parliament to not be run by businessmen but for it to be guided by professors and other strong leaders. The path to the future is difficult, but it is also bright.”

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