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'We won't panic until the Russian tanks arrive': Ukrainians taking invasion threat in their stride

They are taking the latest twists and turns in the diplomatic crisis over Ukraine in their stride here in the country’s capital.

Kyiv feels like a city caught in a moment of time, suspended between humdrum normality and the threat of looming conflict.

There are thousands of Russian troops just a few hours drive north of here but life goes on as it has for seven years now of war.

Among the pickled vegetables of her stall in a cold and draughty Soviet-era market building, we met Tatiana and asked her about her president’s words this week.

President Zelenzky urged the nation not to panic

President Volodymyr Zelenzky had addressed the nation urging his people not to panic.

The situation was under control, a Russian invasion was not imminent.

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Tatiana seemed unimpressed

“We are all worried because everyone wants peace. We have kids and grandchildren so we don’t war to happen. We won’t panic until the Russian tanks arrive in Kyiv.”

Waghorn Kyiv/Ukraine Tatiana
Tatiana is worried about a Russian invasion

Roman Nabozhniak fought in the last war with Russia.

In peacetime, he’s become a baker selling some of Kyiv’s most popular brownies.

He told me he’s stopped listening to the politicians, instead, preparing with his reserve unit for the moment Russia invades.

“What transport do we use, what points of gathering do we use, what routes of getting to the military base, when all the main routes will probably be stuck by people evacuating,” he said.

“I do not follow the guidance of the government. I do follow the guidance of my military commanders.”

Roman Nabozhniak ukraine waghorn
Roman Nabozhniak fought in the last war with the Ukrainian army

Concentrating minds here is the constant stream of Russian propaganda pictures of its war machine being put through its paces.

Today there were pictures of tank after tank churning up the snow to the east of Ukraine.

Roman showed us pictures on Ukraine’s defence ministry website of British instructors training Ukrainian soldiers how to use anti-tank missiles supplied by the UK.

Waghorn Kyiv/UkraineArseniy Yatsenyuk
Former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is worried the west isn’t sending a strong enough message to Russia

We met Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former prime minister and now the opposition leader.

He is worried the West is not sending a strong enough message to Vladimir Putin and says Ukraine needs a lot more than anti-tank missiles.

“What we need out of the West? We need the shipment of lethal defensive weapons,” he said.

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“Anti-aircraft systems, anti-missile systems, electronic warfare that’s what is needed.”

Germany promised to join the effort to send help to Ukraine today. Five thousand German helmets are on their way.

“What next?” asked the mayor of Kyiv in jest. “Pillows?”


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