Putin’s speech was shocking to many, but not to people in Kyiv

“It’s been like this for 15 years. He’s always been lying. This is not diplomacy, it’s just idiocy,” Kyiv resident Nina Vasylenko told CNN.

Waiting for a bus with her friend and former classmate Ala Bovtun, Vasylenko, who said she was “60+” years old, said that the fact that Putin officially recognized two breakaway territories in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine as independent makes no difference.

“The Russian army was there a long time ago,” she said.

Kateryna Cherepanova, a 38-year-old from the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine, said the speech the Russian leader delivered on Monday was “disgusting.”

“It was crazy, but we were not shocked, he repeated what he wrote before, his imaginary history. I just hope that Russian people were shocked if they were listening to him, because it was so crazy, so surreal,” she said.

Cherepanova said Putin’s address, as “creepy” as it was, makes little difference in her daily life.

“We’ve had the war for eight years, now it’s official,” she added. One thing she is contemplating though is switching from speaking Russian to Ukrainian. Cherepanova grew up speaking Russian – as many Ukrainians do. “It’s a symbolic thing,” she said.

Kateryna Cherepanova pictured in central Kyiv on Tuesday, February 22.

Cherepanova said she was hoping that listening to Putin’s grievance-packed speech would inspire Western countries to send help to Ukraine.

“I think now is a good moment for [the West] to help us. Not by words, but by actions. But I do not think that it will be something more meaningful than just ‘deep concerns’ and all that stuff, “she said.

Asked what she’d like the West to do, she replied: “They can invite Ukraine into NATO. Or European Union. Or put really strict sanctions [on Russia] and stop trading with Russia and block the new gas pipeline. “she added.
& # 39; We are not sure what is going to happen next. & # 39;  Donbas evacuees face uncertainty in southern Russia

In a cafe near Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral, Ivan Dymchuk was enjoying a break in the midday sun. He said Putin’s speech has made him a bit more worried.

“Based on his reaction to Ukraine acting as a sovereign country, we can expect anything from him,” he said. Dymchuk, 33, has friends in Vinnytsia region to the west of Kyiv and plans to send his family there if the capital becomes dangerous.

Dymchuk added that he would stay in Kyiv personally, doing what he said was his duty as a member of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, the reserve forces of Ukraine’s military. His unit, like many across the country, has ramped up its training in recent weeks.

“If anything happens, I will stay here and defend,” he added.

Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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