PRESIDENT'S BLOG - KYIV, 29.08.2014.


On a beautiful sunny day in Kyiv, life  on the face of it seems quite normal, and certainly doesn't have the feel the country's at war.

But you only need to scratch the surface to realise all isn't well.

Whilst visiting St. Sophia's cathedral I came across a funeral service for a young soldier who had been killed in the battle for Luhansk. Both the military and public were present in large numbers. It served as a reminder that this conflict continues to affect the lives of many Ukrainians - far and wide, civil and military.

Later in the day I met an elderly lady who had left her home in Donetsk to escape the fighting and had moved to live in Kyiv with her son in his one bedroom flat. She was understandably upset not so much because she had to flee her own home, but more so because her youngest son had taken up arms and was fighting with the separatists. She believes that he simply fell in with the wrong sort of people and that he now doesn't know how to get out without putting his own life in danger. He says he doesn't want to die for Putin but also feels that he had little hope for the future. He took up arms with the separatists because he saw Russia as a better chance to improve his life.

Even after this war ends it will take years to win back the trust between certain parts of the East and the rest of Ukraine. The process of reconciliation has to start and start now, or else no one will win.

But in an ironic way, Ukraine may look back on this period as one which was needed. This war has united the country as never before. It has raised people's real understanding of what Independence means, which in the past was taken for granted. Finally, also. Ukrainians have begun to understand the meaning of energy wastage and the need to become energy independent of Russia.

In the midst of the misery of war there are also signs things will be different and potentially better... But that will come only after the war has ended...

Zenko lastovetskyj

Ukrayinska Dumka


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