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Residents of Ukrainian city near Russian border brace for the unknown

WorldJan 22, 2022 08:50AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Reservists of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces listen to instructions during military exercises at a training ground outside Kharkiv, Ukraine December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/File Photo

By Vitaliy Gnidy

KHARKIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Residents in Ukraine's second biggest city Kharkiv said they hoped for the best but would prepare for the worst, as Russia massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's borders and diplomatic talks failed to produce a breakthrough.

Kharkiv, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine that is home to tank, aircraft and tractor factories, lies 42 km (26 miles) from the Russian border. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has identified it as a possible target of a Russian attack.

Russia has denied it plans to attack Ukraine but has pressed the West for security guarantees, including a block on Ukraine joining the NATO alliance.

Kharkiv's mayor, Igor Terekhov, has said the city of 1.4 million will be "calm and collected" and he would not allow anybody to take it. Interviewed this week, some residents said they would stay and fight, others might move.

"I do not have to stay in one place, if anything happens - I can work remotely," said project manager Daniella Shatokhina.

"I am trying not to think about it. I hope everything will be okay, I hope for the best. It's better not to panic before time but to decide as it happens, think on my feet."

Another resident, assistant brand manager Anya Vergeles, compared the situation to 2014, when Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

"Nobody thought that this could happen to Crimea. Nobody could imagine that. I do not want to believe it, but we do not know what will happen next," she said.

Zelenskiy said in an interview published on Friday that an attack on Kharkiv was "feasible", though a spokesman later said the president was laying out a hypothetical scenario.

The top U.S. and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday but agreed to keep talking to try to resolve the crisis.

Sales manager Oleksiy Kormylets said he would not leave Kharkiv whatever happened.

"Run? No. No way! I was born here. I grew up here. I am staying no matter what. And if I have to join the city defence, I'll do it," he said.

IT programmer Anton Sergeev thought Russia may be just sabre-rattling, and recalled an unsuccessful attempt by Russian-backed separatist forces to capture the city in 2014.

"They already were 'welcomed' here so they have learned it's better to stay away. Or they will go back home in zinc coffins. And their mothers will cry," he said.

Residents of Ukrainian city near Russian border brace for the unknown
 

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Comments (5)
Chad RicherThanYou
Chad RicherThanYou Jan 22, 2022 3:31PM ET
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The USA will do nothing. Weak has been debtor nation
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jan 22, 2022 11:58AM ET
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Putin is playing w Biden.
Rob TwoTrade
Rob2Trade Jan 22, 2022 7:58AM ET
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Weakness invites hostility. Does anyone really thibk Putin is afraid of Biden, a corrupt senile old man who apoligized multiple times to his handlers because he thought he was talking too much?
Aleksandr Radchenko
Aleksandr Radchenko Jan 22, 2022 5:42AM ET
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we know from history how aggressors end their lives.
Ahsan ul Iqbal
Ahsan ul Iqbal Jan 22, 2022 5:33AM ET
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My son is residing in khakhiv, he works in crypto exchange. he is not fear and not want to back native country Pakistan. May Allah bless him and all citizens of Khakhiv.
Jan 22, 2022 5:33AM ET
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Our prayers are with you.
Chad RicherThanYou
Chad RicherThanYou Jan 22, 2022 5:33AM ET
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Your son is gonna get REKT
 
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