(World Politics Review) OPYTNE, Ukraine—One afternoon in January 2015, 78-year-old Maria Gorpynych stood on her porch and anxiously watched her son Victor run the short distance to the home of a neighboring family. At the time, Opytne, located in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, was caught in the middle of heavy fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers. Victor wanted to help the neighbors wrap a gas pipe in rubber to protect it from shelling.
Less than five minutes after he left, Gorpynych saw one of the neighbors running back toward her house. He came bearing bad news: A mine had detonated nearby, and a shard had struck Victor in the head. […]
“Before we were naive and were told that Russia is a strategic partner,” Olexiy Haran says. “Now we see what kind of a strategic partner Russia can be if it invaded Crimea and brought war to Donbas.”
He adds that even in Donbas, the political landscape is changing from the days when Yanukovych and his Party of Regions held sway. Now there is competition among a variety of candidates, and the region will not vote monolithically. Haran says his group’s data shows that support for NATO has grown from less than 1 percent before 2014 to 24 percent today in government-controlled parts of Donbas.
“When it comes to the problem of safety, Ukrainian attitudes to Russia have changed drastically,” he says. […]
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