The Arch of Friendship Between Nations leans into the watery snake of the Dnieper, the great river that crosses kyiv and that has historically served as unofficial border between East and the West of Ukraine, between its most Russophile regions and its more ukrainian. It opened in 1982 —three days before a heart attack abruptly ended Brezhnev’s reign– to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union and immortalize theeternal friendship” Come in Ukraine and Russia. It’s still there today a hulk shaped like a rainbow, but on your gray uniformity A large black crack has been painted to symbolize the definitive rupture between the two countries and the history that intertwined them for centuries.
The feeling for him newcomer to Kyiv It has nothing to do with what prevails in Lviv. The floods of people trying to make a fairly normal life under the Viennese splendor of the city-refuge in the west of the country give way to a city taciturn, fortified and half empty. As soon as you arrive at the station on one of those trains that have not stopped running since the war began — to the surprise even of the Ukrainians themselves, who cannot explain why Russia has not blown up some railway lines that are also used for supply your army–, are waiting various police checkpoints. Looking for weapons and alcohol, banned by the martial lawand ask for the documentation in search of spies and informers in the service of the Kremlin.
Some internally displaced persons are returning to the capital after seeing how the Russian offensive got stuck in its periphery, severely punished. But no one has any illusions and even less buys the announced reduction of the “military activity” around kyiv to create “trust” in the negotiations. “Putin is not only a compulsive liar who wants to erase us from the map, but every time there is talks things get worse,” he says. Dimitro Tymoshenko in front of a pedestal that used to carry the statue of Lenin until the heads of the soviet heroes They started shooting after Maidan Revolution in 2014. The beginning of the end of the last pro-russian president from the country. “Last night was horrible, they fell many mortars and artillery shells not far from the east of the city”, assures this man 25 years oldwho used to work for a logistics company before the war.
On the way to Independence Square (Maidan), the barricades with concrete walls and sandbags they dominate the landscape, as in so many other parts of the city. circulate a few cars and the walkers can be counted without difficulty. The subway tickets are closed and, as you walk through their gigantic halls in darkness, footsteps are heard. The silence is thunderous. Everything has a spectral and somewhat dystopian air, not unlike when the pandemic emptied the world’s big cities. With one difference: the explosions like the one that was heard in the middle of the afternoon not far from downtown.
The trolley car works and also some subway lines. Other stations serve as shelter for internally displaced persons and people too scared to continue living near the front lines. Between all of them they have ended up creating a parallel life and underground in the bowels of the city. And everywhere they look painted against Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. If in Poland they jokingly call it “Heil Putler”, here the header slogan is “Putin, fuck you”, derived from the phrase made famous by the Coast Guard Roman Gribov In the early stages of the invasion, two Russian warships asked him to surrender the tiny islet of snakes, located in the Black Sea. “Russian ships, fuck youGribov, who has since become a Ukrainian hero, told them.
Faced with the invader, the country is behaving like a disciplined soldier and sacrificed. In recent days they have reopened some restaurants and shops to heed the call of his Volodymyr Zelensky. “Our president told us that we have to help prevent the total collapse of the economy, so we decided to reopen two days ago,” he says. Roman Pospielov in front of his restaurant. Actually, they never stopped operating, but until now they only cooked for the military. From now on, everything they enter will also go to them.
Despite everything that is happening, the conversation with the translator develops in Russian. It happens constantly. The second language of this bilingual country is still not among the multiple casualties of this war, unlike what is happening with family ties, cracked like that bow of friendship from Soviet times. “Most of Ukrainians they hate now russians and families have stopped talking to their relatives on the other side of the border because they blame us for this war,” says Pospielov, repeating a statement heard many times these days.
Tymoshenko, the logistics worker, illustrates this with the response his grandfather received when he called his brother in Russia days after the start of the invasion. His brother told him that he could help him to be evacuated and, when he told him that he did not want to leave his country, he replied: “Die then with those nazis”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.