World

Kids Are Taking Photos With Fighters In East Ukraine

Russian-backed separatists are on the march. And on Instagram.

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Tensions are high on the Russia-Ukraine border. Russia is threatening a full invasion. Pro-Russia rebels, including Russian "war tourists," have risen up in the east. The Ukrainian government has failed to reassert control. The situation is precarious.

But don't worry, the kids are okay. Sort of.

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Here in Slovyansk, a family goes for just another family outing. Pro-Russia rebels — which Ukraine says include fighters from Russia — have turned this city in the east into a hotbed of opposition to Ukraine's interim government.

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And just like in Crimea, where Russia and Ukraine squared off in March, pro-Russia fighters are again making their mark on Ukrainian soil — and Instagram.

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"Everything is OK here," reads the caption. "#Slavyansk."

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The little girl seems happy, but why so serious, soldier?

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#Slavyansk.

There are some important lessons being learned. Like this caption, which provides a concise summary of the geo-political crisis: "Little green men."

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On Thursday, April 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted for the first time that the "green men," who seized the Crimean peninsula were in fact Russian soldiers. Putin has continued to deny that Russian soldiers are in eastern Ukraine, despite Ukrainian and media claims otherwise.

Not all in Slovyansk, however, were thrilled with the phenomenon. "In the city there are tanks, soldiers with automatic weapons, residents of the town are taking pictures of them with their kids ... It's a shame and I have a lump in my throat."

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The full caption on the photo, originally in Russian, reads:

"We were in the center today ... I'm still under the impressions of what I saw. In the city there are tanks, soldiers with automatic weapons, residents of the town are taking pictures of them with their kids. Everyone is happy, they've come out like it's a holiday. Under the executive committee building, grannies are sitting and for some reason [rock singer] Zemfira's music is playing. There are boys standing at the checkpoints drinking beer. People are walking around the center of town with beers in their hands ... it's an abnormal situation. In the city there's war but everyone is satisfied, as if they don't understand. I don't know what to expect next. No, it's not scary. It's a shame and I have a lump in my throat."

#Euromaidan #Slovyansk #Donbass #Donestkrepublic #Russia #Ukraine #AntiMaidan #tanks #nowar #separatists

Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at miriam.berger+done@buzzfeed.com.

Susie Armitage is the Global Managing Editor and is based in New York.

Contact Susie Armitage at susie.armitage@buzzfeed.com.

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