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Voices of Time. What Russian-speaking immigrants say about the war in Ukraine

06.05.2022

The invasion of Ukraine back in February was supported by leaders of such countries as Belarus, Brazil, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, China (the government of China maintains a neutral position and calls on all sides to show restraint in order to prevent further escalation) and several others.

The European Union, the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea - have sharply condemned the actions of the Russian Federation and imposed sanctions. However, even in these states there are those who approve of Russia's actions.

We gathered 10 Russian-speaking emigrants between the ages of 25 and 60 with different points of view and asked them all the same question:

"In your opinion, what is happening in Ukraine right now?"

The answers are below.

NADEZHDA, MONTENEGRO:

"There is a war in Ukraine, what is there to talk about? A horrible, senseless war that takes a lot of lives. A tragedy that destroys at once both Ukraine and all the good that was in Russia.

With one difference: Ukraine will definitely win and recover, the whole world will help it, it has a future, while Russia will not get rid of the terrorist stamp for a very long time. I don't see a good outcome for Russia, even if everything suddenly stopped right this second. There is no stopping the descent into the abyss.

My God, it was possible to live peacefully, to trade, to develop, to exchange something... Now this enmity is forever.

For me this is a very personal tragedy: I was born and lived half of my life in Kiev. Then there was a question of where to go to study. Twenty years ago it seemed a simple and logical decision to go to Russia. I regret it now. Half of my life in Kiev, half of my life in Moscow. I am literally torn apart”.


Photo: Emilio Morenatti | AP

ANDREY KUCHERYAVY, GERMANY:

"Western politicians are not shy in their expressions. And I won't. I fully support the special operation in Ukraine! It's a pity they didn't start it sooner. These Nazis were mocking and killing Russians in Donbass, and in Kyiv authorities watched it happening silently. Or even condoned it. And no one in the West cared. Ukraine is a daughter, but it is a western daughter. This is a purely American approach.

You got so excited about Russia going into Ukraine. Don't we learn history? The United States has bombed so many countries that it is hard to remember them all. They bombed Serbia with banned munitions. Just because they could.

And most of you didn't care about the people hiding in basements in Donbass since 2014. You've had propaganda poured into your ears about the great Zelensky, and you rejoice, chew and grunt it with pleasure.

I care. The people of Donbass have suffered for eight years. Now the people are also suffering in Ukraine, it's sad, but it's a forced measure. And the term is not long. They will suffer for a couple of weeks, but then they will live normally.

And I recommend those of us who live in Europe to read different news. Not only Western, but also Russian news. Maybe the picture will get a little clearer. Read about the expansion of NATO. And you'll understand why they're carrying out a special operation. Although, if you don't understand, here's your argument: if the States can do it, so can Russia. And who's to say that it's not so?”.


Photo: Vadim Savitskiy/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

ANNA P., MEXICO:

"Ukrainians are waging a national liberation war against the Russian-fascist imperial invaders. If you look at the events with your eyes wide open and use the terminology drummed into us at school.

Russia - at the behest of Mr. Putin and those who helped the alternative paranoid reality to form in his ilk's Chekist head - is waging an aggressive war on the territory of a once fraternal and for the most part Orthodox nation. Believing, apparently, that they have finally reached out with their greedy, itching hands to even the most hated America and NATO.

They wage a monstrous, disgusting war in all its manifestations (there are no words to express the horror and despair of what my compatriots are doing), condemning innocent civilians to death and unspeakable suffering, destroying their lives and homes - along with the entire infrastructure and economy of the neighboring peaceful multi-million dollar country; deliberately provoking a humanitarian - and economic - crisis in prosperous Europe, an almost inevitable famine in Africa; condemning its own population to an inevitable awakening - after the bloody feast of the "Russian world" - with a very terrible hangover.

No one knows how long this war will last - any technical and tactical superiority of the Ukrainian army Russia is always able to pelt with inexhaustible, practically (compared to the size of the Ukrainian population), reserves of cannon fodder and, moreover, there is no guarantee that the "cornered rat" will not use its last argument - nuclear weapons.

But one thing is clear: Ukraine will definitely win. Inevitably. Sooner or later it will win. And it will rise from the ashes like a phoenix.


Photo: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

Georgi Stein, Germany:

"European propaganda is set up in such a way that if you are ready to gobble up anything you want, they will feed it to you. There was an article in the English-language media where experts diagnosed Putin with cancer, dementia and Alzheimer's. That's what made him evil.  People eat it up. But if Putin has dementia, what about Biden?

I've been living in Europe for a long time, I'm a law-abiding citizen. But that doesn't stop me from being anti-NATO.

And I also don't understand since when walking through the streets of Berlin or Munich and shouting "Putin f...o." and "go f*ck yourself" became a reason for immediate acceptance into the EU.

I was born in the Soviet Union. And I don't like Nazis. Our grandfathers who died in WWII probably didn't finish the job they started. That's why now young very young guys are forced to exterminate the Nazis again with their blood. It's time to end it. Once and for all. Personally, I believe that this special operation to return Ukraine to the borders of the early 20th century. But it would be better to return it to the borders of the 18th century."


Photo: Emre Caylak/AFP

ALLA, BULGARIA:

"There is a war going on in Ukraine - Russia has attacked Ukraine and is waging an invasive war.

I have been in Bulgaria for eight years, I left after Russia's occupation of Crimea, realizing that I was living in an aggressor country and that it would not stop at what it had already seized from Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.

It was clear that someday Russia would have a big war, on November 19, 2021 a friend and I discussed that the war would start no later than February 2022. It was clear by the troop pulling. That's how it came out (c).

I go out to rallies and marches in support of Ukraine, I help refugees in Bulgaria in any way I can (information, moral support, collecting things), I am in touch with friends in Ukraine. After Ukraine's victory, I hope Russia will be dismantled into several small countries without nuclear weapons, and I will gladly accept the passport of the Siberian Republic.”


Photo: Sebastian Backhaus/Agentur Focus/Redux

Olga Konevska, Italy:

"My world was turned upside down eight years ago. After the tragic events in Odessa, when on May 2, 2014, Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned down the administration building on Kulikovo Pole. Let me remind you that there were peaceful people there! My acquaintances, friends of friends, my fellow Odessans. They were just collecting signatures for a referendum on the status of the Russian language.

But they were attacked and Molotov cocktails were used against unarmed people. Boulders were thrown at them, they were beaten with bats, they were shot.

Then supporters of the "Anti-Maidan" movement took refuge in the House of Trade Unions. Radicals surrounded the building and set it on fire. I saw these images with my own eyes.

They are still on the Internet, take a look. Forty-eight people died. Vadim Papura, 17 years old, was among them.

Why didn't Europe say anything? Why aren't the perpetrators punished? Why has no one gone to trial?  May 2, 2014 is the most shameful date of modern Ukraine. There is no forgiveness for the executioners!".


Photo: REUTERS

EKATERINA AFONINA, COFOUNDER OF SNURK.TRAVEL, AMSTERDAM:

"There are bombings of peaceful cities, shootings, rape and torture in Ukraine. Children die every day. The crimes in Bucha, Volnovakha are monstrous, unbelievable. The blockade of Mariupol. Two months of pure hell. All this is called war, genocide, crimes against humanity. And there can be no other definitions.

This war is insane and senseless. It destroys human lives and destinies. It was lost by Putin and the Russian Federation even before it started. Because the induced psychosis cannot overcome reality, the archaic cannot overcome the future, and humanism, respect and the value of human life in today's world are immeasurably more important than primitive power, coupled with illusory notions of exceptionalism.

All of us will have to spend the rest of our lives trying to understand how this could have happened, how and where we screwed up. Each of us will inevitably have to deal with our own guilt and responsibility. And the sooner the better.

In the meantime, I think the most important thing we can do, apart from volunteering, donating, and providing shelter to people forced to flee Ukraine, is to demand that our governments pass an oil and gas embargo that would prevent Putin from continuing the war. This measure will certainly hit us all in the pocket, but it will not kill our loved ones."


Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Igor Pugachev, Austria:

“Recently I saw a picture in the Ukrainian media of a bomb shelter in Kharkov, where a little boy about four years old in diapers is walking around against the shabby walls and creepy furniture. Something struck me as familiar. As it turned out, it didn't. The journalists had passed off as Kharkiv what was really happening in the bomb shelter in Donetsk in 2015. But not only in 2015. People in Donbass regularly hid like this for all eight years.

They did not always manage to escape. Some were killed. A normal life, nothing needed to be changed?!

So, yes, I believe that we couldn't do without bringing troops into Ukraine. And another thing: the inordinate amount of fakes prevents many people from understanding the real picture. Not everyone has acquaintances in Ukraine. So people take for granted what they are told by the media.

And I wonder why they don't show captured Ukrainian soldiers here in the West. I watched their interviews on Telegram. And the words are not the main thing there. Many of them are deliberately stripped bare, so that the tattoos are visible. And the tattoos speak volumes! Or is it the Russian military that quickly draws swastons on prisoners?

Ordinary people to the west of Donbass are suffering now, too. And some of them are dying. And that's the horror. But here's what I see: if what they write about Russia here were true, it would have been over long ago. They would have simply razed the cities to the ground, with no regard for casualties, and marched on the remnants of Kiev by now. You don't launch expensive high-precision missiles if you want to destroy the country along with the people. There are more efficient and less expensive methods for that. And I am glad that these methods are not used. That is, I am glad that the Western media is lying to us. And yes, I want this operation to be over soon. “


Photo: Gavriil Grigorov/TASS

GENNADY, CANADA:

"Military aggression by the Russian Federation is taking place in Ukraine. This is not an opinion, but a statement of an act that has all the attributes defined by the UNGA of 1974:

«...the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state.»

Of course, none of the aggressors acknowledge this and rely on myths and lies that somehow justify aggression, but do not challenge the actions specified in the definition.

What can aggression lead to? Apart from countless victims and losses on the part of Ukraine, which was subjected to aggression, the failure of aggression and the weakening of the aggressor are also possible.

But taking into account the weakness of civil institutions and democratic traditions the authorities are likely to suppress this dissatisfaction by intensifying repressions and terror against the population and try to establish a regime which resembles the Stalin regime in the USSR in 1930-50s."


Photo: The Associated Press

ALEXANDER SEROV, MONTENEGRO:

"Either we or they will beat us. There is nothing more to add.”

Material collected by: Irina Iakovleva and Trendz Europe editorial staff

“I feel ashamed, hurt and scared”. Russian-speaking emigrants in Europe
Emigrants

“I feel ashamed, hurt and scared”. Russian-speaking emigrants in Europe