Bread not bullets: Ukraine’s locals and soldiers against war
As we saw the crowds gathering round the Ukrainian armoured personnel carriers parked near the railway tracks in Kramatorsk we thought we might encounter a hostile crowd.
But in fact the atmosphere was peaceful. “We don’t want war” said a man called Ruslan who spoke English. “That’s why we don’t want them to come into the town.”
They were keen to show us a white Opal saloon car that had been partially crushed by an APC. As we were filming it we heard the roar of another armoured vehicle hurtling along towards us.
The people started whistling and shouting. When the vehicle stopped they linked arms to prevent it from proceeding any further.
One man said to me: “Look they’re pointing weapons at us.” But in fact the soldiers seemed more bemused than aggressive.
They clearly did not want to aggravate the people. Some people started to talk to them, asking “Why are you here? What are you doing?”
We looked over at the crushed saloon car and saw that two policeman in blue uniforms were making a routine report as if there had been a minor traffic accident. Nothing can stop bureaucracy, not even the threat of war.
— Lindsey Hilsum (@lindseyhilsum) April 16, 2014
Another four APCs roared up, one flying the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag. They too, were blocked by the growing crowd of people.
Some people were keen to explain to me that they were all Ukrainians, soldiers and civilians alike, they did not want to be in conflict.
Eventually the soldiers took the magazines from their weapons. Everybody cheered and clapped.
A group of women collected money to buy food. A few moment later they came back with bread, water and sausages which they handed to the soldiers sitting on top of the armoured vehicles.
A Hind helicopter circled the area.
The Ukrainian government may want to force the separatist armed men out of buildings they have occupied in towns across eastern Ukraine, but their soldiers are very reluctant.
“I don’t want to shoot anyone,” one said to me. “Actually I was against this mission.”
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