by: Andrew Kitchen
Vera Basova, clutching a wooden fence for support, asks “What do they want from us?”
She is 90-years-old. She lived through World War II and has endured eight years of conflict between Pro-Russian fighters and Ukrainian forces. Now, standing outside her home in Marinka, just 80km from the Russian border, she fears she will have to return to her basement to hide from bombs.
The United States have been warning their allies in Europe they believe Russia is readying for a possible full-scale invasion by January or February. According to U.S. Intelligence, more than 100,000 troops have amassed near the border, and satellite imagery show military vehicles moving to the area.
A similar buildup of troops took place last April, and it turned out Russian President Vladimir Putin was only bluffing. But experts are warning that Russia’s rhetoric is more extreme this time around.
Ukrainian Forces are also preparing themselves for the worst. A commander on the frontline, Vadim said “We won’t leave. We will stay here until the end.” They have been performing drills to prepare for any sort of attack.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine ignited seven years ago, when Russia illegally annexed the Crimea region, and the situation has been tense ever since. Relations between the two countries worsened in the past few days as Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, accused Russians of organizing a coup to overthrow his government.
There is a scheduled NATO meeting next week in Latvia, and it is expected that the Russia-Ukraine security situation will be top issue of discussion.
The Kremlin has denied organizing the coup plot as well as any other sort of agression, but Basova is still scared. She tries not to panic, and she tries to focus on maintaining her garden. “If something happens, I [will] just pull myself together,” she says.