Bbabo NET


“As soon as Putin spoke, it immediately began”

The announcement of the start of Russia's military operation to protect the Donbass has become alarming news for residents of the regions adjacent to the border, including the Rostov region. Nevertheless, they say that this night was perhaps the quietest in the last week. The sounds of explosions and gunfire from the Ukrainian army were replaced by the rumble of Russian aircraft. A correspondent from Rostov-on-Don tells how the region met the first day of the campaign. The morning of February 24 for most Russians began approximately the same way - some received a call from their relatives with the question “how are you?”, others saw everything on themselves, others woke up from emotional messages and calls from friends, colleagues, acquaintances. Rostov Oblast, the closest Russian region to the war-torn Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in recent years, is accustomed to incessant news of hostilities. But this time it was different.

Going on an editorial assignment, I don’t even have time to close the taxi door when the driver asks me: “Did you hear that the war has begun?”

"I heard," I nod. Let's go, keep quiet.

The taxi driver eventually gives up. It is recognized that he is not at all afraid of Russia's entry into hostilities, but he is afraid for the economy. But he does not express dissatisfaction.

“And I, imagine, I took the girl to the military hospital in the morning, she did not hear anything. I told her, she got scared and changed the route. All of a sudden, they start bombing - it will immediately get there ... Zelensky just recently said that he wants to create nuclear weapons. It would be better not to say,” he argues.

While talking, switching channels on the radio - there are only entertainment programs and not a word about politics.

In the center of Rostov-on-Don, there are few people in the morning, most of them talk on the phone. From everywhere you hear the words “NATO”, “America”, “Russia”, “Ukraine”, “explosions”, “just kapets” - enough to understand the context. In Rostov cafes and restaurants it is difficult to find someone who has not said at least a word about recent events. Even very young people lead discussions - in one of the institutions I meet three guys, 12 years old, discussing NATO, Donbass and economic forecasts.

A girl runs along the main street and loudly asks her mother not to panic and not to worry about her. People who are actively discussing, waving their hands, raising their voices rush past.

The anxiety of Rostovites is radically different from the mood of the inhabitants of the border regions of the region. In the Platovo farm, located just a few dozen kilometers from the border with Ukraine, the night of February 24 was one of the calmest in recent memory.

“No shooting, no explosions were heard - only the rumble of planes flying past the farm. Although the last week we lived on pins and needles. It was so roaring here ... ”- a local resident Andrey explains to me.

“And three or four days ago, a group of saboteurs broke through in the area of ​​a neighboring village. Our acquaintances went to cut a garden not far from the border, and they began to shoot at them. No one was hurt, they returned, they told the border guards. They set fire to the reeds, smoked them out, they resisted. There were four or five Ukrainians there,” he says and assures that there is no panic among the villagers. Over the past eight years, they have become accustomed to waking up to the sounds of war.

In the Russian city of Donetsk, the namesake of the capital of the newly recognized Russian republic, life is also calm, as usual, says local resident Vasily.

In Donetsk, explosions and the roar of planes were heard in the morning. As soon as Putin spoke, it immediately began. Then people went to work - the noise of the cars drowned out everything, - he notes. - It was scary for the first hours - what will happen, what to do? As soon as the first reports appeared about how the offensive was going, it became calmer.”

According to him, the rhythm of life in the city has not changed in any way. Unless there are more cars from various regions. Vasily believes that these people are going to pick up friends or relatives. He noticed an increase in the number of cars a week ago, when the evacuation from the LPR and DPR began.

He admits that he is "a little afraid of the consequences of such decisive steps" as a military operation - "everything is in limbo." After being asked if he is afraid of war, he hesitates.

“No, well ... As it were ... Everyone is afraid of exacerbations,” Vasily lowers his voice. - We'll see. Because it was very sudden ... "

His fellow countryman Nikolai has the same story - for several days it was very loud, and on February 24, mainly the sound of aircraft was heard.

“Most people in the city both lived and live. There is not much fear that the conflict will develop. In 2014 it was more serious than now. And the sounds, and everything. Shells fell on our territory, from certain parts of the city you could even see shootings, ”he recalls.

He speaks with restraint about the operation that has begun: the sensations are not very pleasant, but there are no fears yet.

“They will only if they start getting closer. In the meantime, everything is as usual, ”he concludes.

“As soon as Putin spoke, it immediately began”