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ERR in Ukraine: People did not believe the war would come to their homes

Anton Aleksejev in Ukraine.
Anton Aleksejev in Ukraine. Source: ERR

ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev, reporting from near the front line in Eastern Ukraine, told the "Terevisioon" morning show that many he has spoken to in Ukraine have said they never believed the war could land on their porch until it happened.

I'm glad to see you are okay! Have you gotten any sleep?

Yes, of course, we were able to sleep. We went to bed around midnight where the air raid sirens died down. We are roughly 35 kilometers from the front line here in Kostiantynivka. While the city could come under fire theoretically, it has been quite calm here. We visited Sloviansk yesterday. It was peaceful there, too, as we walked around without flak jackets. We'll see what today will bring.

Our news is thick with yesterday's talks [between Ukraine and Russia]. To what extent does that information reach the locals? How much do they know?

It seems that people do read the news, while they have many other problems to deal with. They have to make cash withdrawals, buy medicines and groceries. Some are seeing off their loved ones catching evacuation trains out of the city. People are busy. Of course, everyone is waiting for the war to end.

A social services official told us yesterday that the people of Sloviansk hope the war will end before it reaches the city. People who had come to the city from outlying villages to travel to western Ukraine and Europe said the same. They included refugees. They said the same, even though they were reluctant to do it on camera, that they never believed the war might land on their doorstep.

A woman said that they saw what happened at Izium and when contact with the city was lost, realized that they would be next, lying just five kilometers out. The situation could change and the front line could stay where it is. It boils down to the weapons the Russians use. It's one thing with howitzers and quite another if missiles are being fired as their range is something else. You can feel that you are deep in the rear in the morning and find yourself on the front line the next moment, as happened in the town of Popasna near us.

The situation is changing rapidly. You said yesterday that the work of journalists has become more difficult? Have there been any setbacks?

Luckily, there were none yesterday, while I am expecting some difficulty today. We are ready for it. We will have to wait and see what they day brings. While we have lofty plans, they would be best kept to ourselves for now. We will see what we can do.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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