Kyiv keeps calm and carries on as Russian troops close is on Ukraine

Kyiv keeps calm and carries on as Russian troops close is on Ukraine

As hundreds of thousands of Russian troops close in on Ukraine the capital Kyiv is still ­bustling with regular everyday life.

Civilians go about their daily business seemingly unaffected or obviously concerned by the events at the Donbas frontline 500 miles to the east.

Neither the sombre sounds of mortar bombs and ­artillery nor fearful dashes from building to building to avoid snipers are needed in these streets.

But the air of normality makes it hard to believe 126,000 Russian troops are gathered along Ukraine’s eastern flank – or that as many as 80,000 pro-Russian forces are camped out in Belarus to the north.

However, the death toll remains a stark reminder of the potential threat to life.

To date, 14,000 people have been killed in fighting between Ukraine forces and pro-Russia separatists.

But Kyiv’s iconic Maidan Square, where the ­revolution moving closer to Europe and away from Russia began in late 2013, was business as usual yesterday.

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Roman Kifliuk, 45, from Kyiv, says people are ‘tough’
(
Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Cafes, bars and shops were full of people and there was little sign of civilians readying ­themselves for invasion.

Local man Roman Kifliuk, 45, a married father of two, explained: “People are tough and also they tend not to think about what can happen if Russia comes.

“Unless you are from the east or connected to the military in some way you don’t know there is a war as it is so very far away.

“Also many Ukrainians here know there is little they can do about the situation, perhaps they cannot afford to stockpile food or flee.

To date 14,000 people have been killed in fighting between Ukraine forces and pro-Russia separatists
(
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“So they just carry on as usual as they are used to pressure from Russia and the threat from its ­leadership. What else can they do?

“That’s how they feel. Nobody wants it to happen but they cannot stop it.”

Russian tanks could burst across the Belarus border and encircle the capital within days, shelling government buildings, which could also face vicious airstrikes from Russian warplanes.

But last night in Kyiv all restaurants, cafes and bars were still open despite that potential threat.

Kseniia Polenskiya, a secretary, said: “Nobody knows what will happen so why change how we live?

“Many of my friends have discussed leaving and heading west but most have stayed.

“It is either because they cannot afford to go or it is impossible to foresee what will happen.

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“That means we don’t know where to go and will have to react if something happens.

“Russia has been threatening us for some time now so we are used to it.

“The problem with that is that it means there’s a kind of way of thinking that it may not happen.

“And that means we have a false sense of security and many people ignore the threat.

“But also many people are waiting for the last minute to move and that means that an evacuation could lead to congested roads along with last-minute panic.”

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