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Ukrainians Were Prepared to Defend Their Country: “Who Else But Us?”

In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the NY Times did a short series of videos about how average Ukrainians were preparing to defend their country. On Jan 28, video journalists spoke to military and residents in Mariupol:

My main takeaway from this video is that the war in Ukraine has been ongoing for some time; the recent invasion is an escalation โ€” a significant one to be sure, but definitely part of whole series of Russian moves. As Fiona Hill replied in a recent interview when asked if we were on the brink of World War III:

We’re already in it. We have been for some time. We keep thinking of World War I, World War II as these huge great big set pieces, but World War II was a consequence of World War I. And we had an interwar period between them. And in a way, we had that again after the Cold War. Many of the things that we’re talking about here have their roots in the carving up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire at the end of World War I. At the end of World War II, we had another reconfiguration and some of the issues that we have been dealing with recently go back to that immediate post-war period. We’ve had war in Syria, which is in part the consequence of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, same with Iraq and Kuwait.

All of the conflicts that we’re seeing have roots in those earlier conflicts. We are already in a hot war over Ukraine, which started in 2014. People shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that we’re just on the brink of something. We’ve been well and truly in it for quite a long period of time.

From Feb 8, a visit to a civilian training center, where people learned how to handle weaponry and field dress wounds:

From Feb 22, a profile of a small paramilitary group that’s been fighting the Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country for years now, sometimes in collaboration with official forces:

One of the paramilitaries said:

God forbid, if a full-scale war breaks out tomorrow in Ukraine, there will be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of volunteers just like me. Just like in 2014.

And on Feb 26, a video of civilians in Kyiv waiting to pick up weapons to help defend the city:

One of the people waiting in line, Hlib Bondarenko,1 spoke about why he was there:

We are in a queue where people are waiting to get their weapons to fight the Russian invaders. There is no reason to believe that they’re going to stop anytime soon. And their objective, at least to me, seems to be the occupation of my entire country and the destruction of everything I love. I’m just a regular civilian. I have basically nothing to do with war or any other thing like it. And I wouldn’t really want to participate in anything like this, but I don’t really have any choice because this is my home.

  1. The video identifies Bondarenko as a computer programmer, but according to LinkedIn and Dribbble, he’s a UI/UX designer.โ†ฉ