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Ukrainians in Donbas do not think about politics but dream about the end of the war

Ukrainians in Donbas do not think about politics but dream about the end of the war
Article by: Yana Polyanska
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Kyiv – President Petro Poroshenko promised on Tuesday that ‘artillery silence’ may reign in Donbas. According to him, the agreements reached in Milan give grounds for optimism. Russian military journalist Ilya Barabanov, who has been reporting on the Donbas conflict for over half a year, said that both Ukrainian soldiers and the civilian population of the Ukrainian East require real peace. According to him, most Ukrainians who live in the ATO zone or around it dream about a full-fledged halt to combat – political issues are now secondary. 

After the meetings in Milan President Petro Poroshenko spoke about an artillery silence regime in Donbas. Besides, the proposes to increase the OSCE mission to monitor the ceasefire.

“Today there will be yet another agreement on the attempt to declare artillery silence. The agreements reached in Milan give grounds for very moderate optimism,” Poroshenko said when visiting Dnipropetrovsk.

Russian human rights activist: over 4 thousand Russians have died in Ukraine

Artillery silence is especially necessary around Donetsk Airport, where Ukrainian soldiers are battling against numerous attacks by combat groups and Russian servicemen.

According to Russian human rights activist Elena Vasilyeva, over 4 thousand Russians have died on Ukrainian territory. Official Moscow denies this.

Barabanov: the people do not thing about separatism, they just want peace

Russian military journalist Ilya Barabanov came to Ukraine during Maidan and has been reporting on the Donbas events since the beginning of the conflict. One of his latest reports speaks about the soldiers whose bodies could not be identified, so the men were buried in unmarked graves. Barabanov says that he sees the disastrous consequences of war every day, therefore he has an ‘anti-military position’ on Donbas.

Barabanov says that he wants to be objective in this conflict, therefore he reports from the perspective of both sides. According to his observations, the mottos about the protection of the Russian-speaking population are propaganda and inventions, he has not seen anything like this when traveling around Ukraine. Besides, the journalist notes, many of the easterners that actively called for the Russian troops to come half a year ago, have now re-examined their position.

Russian journalist fails to find ‘Banderas’ in Ukraine

“The people’s moods changed radically within half a year. While in spring the population was highly politicized, separatist moods were really popular among the broader masses, now the people have come to understand that war will not bring them anything good. The moods now are a desire for all of this to end. And it is unimportant to them what happens next, just so they stop shooting,” says Barabanov.

The journalist says that throughout his work in Ukraine he has not seen any repressions against Russian speakers, nor any of the publicized ‘Banderas.’ However, he adds, he did encounter people with “nationalist and even ultra-nationalist” views. Barabanov however states that “the formation of such views in any society is easily explained.”

According to Barabanov, when Russians talk about the “southeast of Ukraine,” they have most likely never been there, as the south and east are very different from each other. This, on its part, was reflected on how different oblasts took to separatists ideas.

“All the regions are very different, and saying that because they are Russian-speaking, all of them will rebel is stupid. The regions who had no constraining factor were the ones that ‘shook.’ I was in Kharkiv in April, pro-Russian meetings were held there as well. But as I see it, Mr. Kernes was given a choice. He chose a united Ukraine and all of these movements were quickly dispersed,” the journalist says.

Ilya Barabanov: Putin’s ratings will fall when peace comes

Ilya Barabanov is also skeptical regarding Vladimir Putin’s high ratings of support. According to him, the people fall for effective claims and actions, therefore they are happy about territorial annexation, though this will be reflected negatively on the economy of our country.

“As soon as peace comes after this militaristic euphoria, this support will fall significantly. The people will start thinking of how much cargo-200 returned instead of ‘Crimea is ours.’ Unfortunately, 90% of Russia’s population get their information exclusively from television. I don’t need to explain what Russian TV is like,” he says.

Ilya Barabnov says that while working in Ukraine he has to frequently explain to Ukrainians that not all Russian journalists lie. He says that while working in hotspots he has no safety guarantees, however he maintains contact with Ukrainian servicemen and the leaders of the mercenaries. In this way, says he, he is able to see the bigger picture. In particular, last week the journalist attended the wedding of ‘DNR’ leader Igor Bezler in Artemivsk.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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