Putin’s troops wouldn’t get cheers

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With Russia declaring diplomacy at a dead end, a suburb just miles from the front lines in Ukraine would be among the first to know should Russia’s President Vladimir Putin decide to invade. The people here would be less ambivalent about which side to pick than the last time they came under attack, seven years ago. reports that Putin’s Russia isn’t admired in the city of Mariupol in the way it once was. When people imagine the future they might have under his rule, they no longer see a wealthier, more comfortable one in Russia, 30 miles (48 kilometers) away.

Today many compare their lives instead of to the territory that lies between, held by Kremlin-backed separatists since an unsteady ceasefire stopped their approach to the city. They don’t like what they see. Crime rates are high, the economy is crippled and living standards are even lower than on the Ukrainian side of the so-called line of contact.

Life in the shadow of conflict has also taken a toll on Putin’s reputation among many of the Russian-speaking Ukrainians once most likely to believe they belong with Moscow. So too the influx of more than 100,000 people displaced from separatist areas of Donbas, who have direct knowledge of life there.

“Attitudes to Russia have completely changed,” says Svitlana Kalsina, director of School No. 5, whose windows and doors were blown in on Jan. 24 2015, when Russian-armed and aided militants shelled the district, killing more than 30.a

2022.01.16 / 12:56
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