Crisis In Ukraine: Ukrainian views on the atmosphere in Ukraine

After becoming a semi presidential republic and subsequently dissolving the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic became an Independent Ukraine, now – 23 years later – the country and its citizens once again face struggles and problems. Jakub Szweda talked to the people of Ukraine about the current atmosphere in the Eastern European country and how has it affected their lives.

When the civil unrest named ‘Euromaidan’ was created in Kyiv, the Ukrainian citizens and the World couldn’t even predict what was going to happen next. Something that could be a film scene, suddenly became a reality.

Ukraine, a post-Soviet Union country located in Eastern Europe, has a rich and turbulent history; the modern Ukraine has developed, changed and struggled since the early 5th century, as a result Ukrainians have fought for their country for centuries. This resulted in many people fighting to death, during the Soviet period potentially millions of people died from starvation.

The Ukrainian nation had to desperately fight for their independence and freedom in the late 20th century, and now the 21st century forced them to do it again. February 2014 became the month that started the revolution of Ukraine, but it was just the beginning of the ongoing issues. People are proud to be Ukrainian and will continue to be proud. People fought and continue to fight.

Maxim Sochiskiy, born and raised in Kyiv, a real estate appraiser and specialist in post-Soviet politics from Ukraine has been a part of the Ukrainian movement from the beginning. He talks about the atmosphere in Kyiv and his perspective on it.

“I feel very calm and concentrated, and I can say that about the majority of people that I know,” says Sochiskiy. “I am ready at any moment to join the army and defend my country.”

The current situation in Ukraine is still a shock to him. He finds it extremely difficult to believe that his country, an independent country, has to go through such trauma again. It almost creates a picture of team power, it shows how influential the voice of regular civilians can be.

“If someone have had told me about this half a year ago, that Russia will attack Ukraine, I would say that it is impossible. But today it is a reality.”

For many people the realisation is the thing they are struggling with, they are naturally worried and frightened about their future, the future of their land. I have spoken to a number of Kyiv residents and they all say one thing, ‘we will fight for our country.’

“I am ready at any moment to join the army and defend my country.”

Maxim explains the power that the Ukrainian people have. He talks about the idea of citizens being constantly determined to help their country, to never give up. This is not just courage; this is something that many people would run away from.

A lot of activists and simple people are participating in the all-Ukrainian campaign to deliver the message of Maidan,” he added. “People are in small defence groups. I can tell you also that all Ukrainians mobilize themselves, as there are huge lines to the military recruitment offices, people want to join armed forces.”

“The crisis is very bad for Ukraine, it has welded my people into one solid monolith. I have never seen in my life so many volunteers to army, usually the situation was totally opposite army could not find any one who wants to join them.”

“People are really worried and they don’t want any conflict. They want a normal and safe life. I’d say most of the people don’t want Ukraine to be divided.”

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, since the beginning of the demonstrations and revolution in Ukraine in November 2013 – as part of Euromaidan – more than 90 people have died and nearly 1000 anti-government protesters have been injured.

“If someone have had told me about this half a year ago, that Russia will attack Ukraine, I would say that it is impossible. But today it is a reality.”

Julia Lugovska is a freelance journalist from Kyiv with a PhD in post-Soviet and European politics. She is one of many people that chose to fight for Kyiv, chose to fight for Ukraine.

In one word describe the atmosphere in Ukraine? “Horrible.”

“People were outraged and courageous at the same time. We were all ready for the next step, the step to fight the regime.”

“Those who were killed and injured during the confrontations? They have lost their lives and health for the better future of Ukraine. This was a massive shock, we didn’t have something like this in our country, so many death. The moods are different, but the common thing is that everything is tense, as the threat of the military operation and assault is still high.”

“If there is anything that one should take away from this, someone that looks at this from the outside. Hope. Ukraine lost people. Ukraine lost stability. Ukraine never lost hope.”

“People are hopeful,” Julia continues. “Ukraine mobilises itself. There are huge lines to the military recruitment offices; people want to join armed forces.”

“We don’t trust the government. They only have once chance, otherwise Maidan and the people of Ukraine will fight again. We are standing strong and not planning to leave.”

An aftermath of the Ukrainian revolution in late February 2014 is one of the major factors contributing to the crisis in Crimea. Ukrainian government has decided to elect an interim government, which faced opposition from the Russian government. This subsequently erupted the possibility of Crimea joining the Russian Federation again after being transferred to Ukraine in 1954.

“We don’t trust the government. They only have once chance.”

Igor Yugay, an activist from Simferepol, believes that Crimean residents are living their lives as usual, because it is essential for the economy, but more importantly it is important that the people continue to live.

He works near the Supreme Council of Crimea, the heart of all the events in Simferopol and the administrative centre of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

“When all these events and protests started, it was horrible,’ he says. “The city centre was blocked by the military. It was extremely difficult to get to work, many shops were closed.”

“It felt like being stuck in a truck, constantly guarded by armed soldiers.”

“The situation has dramatically changed, in Simferopol at least, the city has started to regain its life. People go to cinemas, cafes or restaurants. Although less people leave their houses in the evenings. The police patrols the city and for now, the military is not seen as a risk factor.”

Words cannot describe the emotions that people have experienced and are still experiencing. This is not just a revolution in Ukraine; every Ukrainian citizen faces his or her own revolution. Being safe and living a normal life is something we often take for granted. What would you if it was taken away from you overnight?

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