One resident said to NBC News that Putin and the West are “playing each other’s nerves”.
KYIV — On Saturday morning, the streets of Kiev’s capital were crowded with customers looking for a pastry. The city’s leaders and residents maintained a calm despite growing concern from the United States about a possible Russian invasion .
A large group of locals gathered outside a popular cafe. Weekend shoppers mingled between the well-stocked aisles, while children played soccer and shouted at each other on a nearby court.
The U.S. is concerned that the Ukrainian capital might be seized in the first few days after a Russian invasion. It now claims that this may become increasingly likely. It is exiling most of its staff from Kyiv’s embassy and asking its citizens to flee immediately.
The city’s residents have been coping with Russia’s threats for many years. They continue to live in peace even though conflict has raged in its east since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
Many in Kyiv remain skeptical despite the West warning of a new attack as soon as next week.
“I don’t believe Russia will invade Kyiv. “The situation is wound up by both sides,” Oleksandr Borvtach (55), told NBC News. “The West is playing with Putin’s nerves.”
While some people are wary about an invasion, very few are actually preparing for it.
It’s frightening when I think about it. Yevheniia Biliavska (30), said that she doesn’t read too much news and does not panic. She added that “In 2014, we didn’t believe Crimea could be annexed.” “But Putin is an insane old man.”
According to the Kyiv-based DJ, she and her husband are considering moving abroad. However, they only have paperwork for their dog.
Russian President has gathered more than 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders, and made bold demands to stop Ukraine from joining NATO, the transatlantic military alliance. Moscow denies plans to invade the West and accuses it of anti-Russian hypersensitivity.
The government of Ukraine has tried to downplay the threat and urged calm, while its western allies raised the alarm.
As he supervised security drills in the country’s south, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that “Today panic is our best friend for enemies”
“We don’t fear anyone, and we don’t panic. “We conduct training and keep things under control,” the president wrote on Facebook.
However, the military buildup of its neighbor has sparked some violence in the capital.
Many protestors rallied at the “Unity March” in opposition to a possible Russian attack on Kyiv’s center Saturday. Some Ukrainians have been training in guerilla warfare for weeks and preparing bomb shelters for the worst.
At least one American was also affected by the increased warnings issued by Washington. Charlie Bonds, a forty-year-old Albuquerque historian, arrived in Kyiv just two weeks ago and intended to stay for life.
“I felt I had to be there. He told NBC News that he studied history for twenty years and has incredibly close connections.
He made his own plans to flee the capital after the U.S. had announced the evacuation of its Embassy on Saturday.
Bonds stated that there is a feeling that nothing will happen. “That is why I have to leave here. That is the feeling that everything is going well.”
He will take the train from Kyiv to Lviv on Sunday, where he will be receiving a reduced U.S. presence. Lviv is a city close to Ukraine’s western border and Poland.
Few people in Kyiv make the same last-minute contingency plan.
“Everything’s possible. It is impossible to say it won’t happen. But how prepared are we? But are we preparing?