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It’s one of the first populated areas of Ukraine that could spot the russian soldiers if finally the Kremlin decides to attack and orders that the incursion be carried out from Belarus, to the north, whose Moscow-allied regime could act as a military platform. Most of the inhabitants of Meadows, just 15 kilometers from the border, one of many Ukrainian farming villages in low houses Y window colourists, maintains a defiant spirit, at least in words, before the possible invader, whom many remember from the times in which they shared the same state under the umbrella of Soviet Union.

over a lot of wooden logs about to be chopped and with the saw still in hand, Vasili Domkenko, 65 years old, employee of TOV Druzhba, a huge agricultural conglomerate, takes for granted that Vladimir Putin will opt for the attack and that it will be precisely through this region. “We are very close to the border,” he notes. Despite his advanced age and having a large family of children and grandchildrenPromise you won’t stay arms folded watching how the Russian soldiers patrol through the town without further ado. “We will go to the forest to resist!”, he asserts, as he becomes indignant when he recalls the pieces of his country that have been taken away by the almighty neighbor to the east in recent years: “before, Ukraine was made up of 24 regions“.

“Let them stay at home”

More enraged if possible is shown Georgui Epepanovich, from 66 years, owner of a small subsistence farm where he farms onions, tomatoes Y other vegetables intended for family consumption. “I will be a sniper, when I was young I practiced shooting as a sport,” he says next to his house. His total willingness to employ, against a possible enemy army, his acquired skills with weapons enjoys long tradition throughout the post-Soviet space. During World War II, Red Army snipers they played a prominent role against the Nazi invasion, killing hundreds of German officers and soldiers and lowering the morale of some occupants who, due to their accurate shots, could not even feel safe when they rested in the rear, far from the front line.

Valentina protection, pensioner of 63 years of Czech origin, lives in a very poor brick shed with a corrugated iron roof located on one of the edges of the village, and does not hide his concern about a possible invasion. “They are explaining it all the time on television,” he notes. Valia, as her relatives and acquaintances call her, can barely utter a couple of sentences in Russian without missing a word or two in Russian. Ukrainian, his mother tongue, and is outraged when he is reminded that many say that Russia and Ukraine are a same country. “Let those Russians stay at home!” If the attack finally occurs, he will take a few belongings and go to his daughter’s house in Kiev, about 130 kilometers to the south.

The same rejection of the Russians expresses Igor Boncharenko, an occasional fisherman 16 years, that ensures not to be afraid of what may happen. “If they come, you have to fight,” he invokes. Maria Dubois, from 49 years, a shopkeeper in one of the few grocery stores in Lugoviki, is the only voz disonante in the middle of the choir critical opinions: “I’m not going to go; where can I go?”, he asks, implying that he does not have additional means of subsistence. For this woman reluctant to allow herself to be photographed, Russians “are people, like any other“.

strategic challenge

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Although many hope that an eventual attack will originate in the east, where the pro-Russian militias control a large part of Ukrainian territory, if in reality the objective is to seize the control of the Ukrainian capital and shoot down To the pro-Western government, advancing from the north would be the easiest option for the Kremlin. More than a week ago, began to arrive in Belarus Russian troops who will participate in some military maneuvers scheduled for mid-February. What’s more, Aleksándr Lukashenko, the country’s president, has in recent weeks increased criticism of the presence of allied troops in neighboring countries such as Lithuania The Poland.

The attack from the north, however, presents a major strategic challenge. The soldiers would have to advance through the Exclusion Zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, an area contaminated by radioactivity caused during the 1986 explosion, with an uncontrolled and wild nature. In fact, on both sides of the Kiev highway it is possible to glimpse advertising posters offering guided tours of the plant and an Internet address where you can get tickets for the macabro tour. A few days ago, the Ukrainian government ordered the deployment of forces to defend this zone, until then very unguarded.

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