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War Shows Who We Are: A Ukrainian’s Perspective of Daily Life in a Country Ravaged by War

Editor’s Note: This article is not about the Ukraine war — at least not directly. That subject has been covered by countless other publications. Instead, this is a closer look at the harsh reality of everyday life in a war-torn nation. While the rest of the world focuses on the front line, it’s all too easy to forget about the tens of millions of civilians caught up in wars such as this one, and the survival challenges they experience on a daily basis.

War is not only death. It’s also life. Those who survived can confirm that one year of war feels like it’s worth dozens of peaceful years. The war in Ukraine has tested our strength by threatening to deprive us of our lives, families, and valuables. But we continue to fight for what’s dear to us, showing through this struggle who we are.

The hostilities are constantly moving, but our houses remain in the same place they’ve always been. When war approaches you, it tests the strength of your love for your home. Every Ukrainian sooner or late had to join the fight for his home or give it up. 

By the beginning of December 2022, 13.7 million Ukrainians had left their homes. 7.8 million Ukrainians left for Europe. Another 5.9 million Ukrainians became internally displaced within Ukraine.

Far fewer Ukrainians risked their lives by deciding to stay at home until the very end. Roughly 1.2 million survived the fighting in their own homes and ended up in territories occupied by the Russian army. 

Some of these people survived the war in their homes twice — residents of some territories of the Kherson and Kharkov regions were occupied by the Russians for six months, and later released by the Ukrainian army. However, for the majority of Ukrainians, the worst can still happen. Almost 26 million Ukrainians are in their homes and are at risk of Russian shelling.

DAMAGE TO HOMES

The windows of houses are the most vulnerable. The blast wave breaks glass. Pieces of flying glass are often more dangerous than metal shrapnel. In order not to be killed by their own windows, residents take a few precautions. 

The easiest solution is to seal the glass with tape. A thin film of adhesive tape can stop the glass from shattering into pieces. Although it protects from the blast wave, shrapnel and stones will still break the glass. Shields made of boards and fiberboard offer more protection against this. But if a strong explosion is nearby, then the wooden shields also fail and the windows break. Finally, some Ukrainians place icons of Jesus Christ in their windows, and put all their hope on the will of God.

Roofs are another vulnerable point of houses. Most roofs in Ukraine are made of tile or corrugated asbestos cement sheets, which breaks easily under the influence of a blast wave or fragments.

 A leaky roof isn’t a quick death for the owner of the house, but it’s a slow death for the building. There’s no way to protect the roof from munitions. All homeowners can do is repair the damage. Small holes are sealed with expanding foam. It’s the cheapest and fastest way to repair.

Some homes are rendered uninhabitable by shelling. Few Ukrainians can afford to rebuild, even if they live in areas where it’s safe enough to attempt repairs.

To repair large holes, we use pieces of old tile or plastic. The plastic is especially helpful. With this material, a person can close up holes from the inside of the roof by standing in the attic. This avoids the risk of climbing onto the roof from the outside. Pieces of plastic are attached to the roof rafters with wire or plastic clamps. No need to use a hammer and nails. This is an added benefit, since such fasteners avoid additional vibrations that can damage the roof.

Few Ukrainians can afford to buy new roof sheets. A piece of this material measuring 68 by 52 inches in a combat zone is UAH 525 or almost $14 at the official exchange rate. Other roof materials cost even more.

The authorities are trying to help the population to repair houses. However, the government’s capacity is small, and the destruction is huge. In the city of Kharkov, 150,000 windows were broken. 

People try to seal windows with plywood or plastic sheeting. In small towns, the authorities are trying to put in new windows. In the town of Lozovaya, 81 new windows were bought and installed.

Elena Sklyarova, a resident of the village of Ivanovka, Donetsk region, explains:

“My house was hit by shelling in August of this year. The windows were covered with wooden shields. However, the blast wave knocked out the shields and shattered the glass. The slate on the roof was all broken. Fragments of the explosive pierced the microwave oven and other household appliances.

“The fragments also pierced the gas pipes. It’s good that the gas was turned off back in May. If there was gas in the pipes, there would have been a fire. 

Then, my house would have burned down. The authorities provided plastic sheeting to repair the roof and sheets of fiberboard to close the broken windows. Later, we received financial assistance to repair the house.

Items such as coffee and chocolate are morale boosters, but these luxuries don’t come cheap.

“Of course, not everything can be repaired. But I’m happy. It’s a miracle that I survived. At the time of the shelling, I was at home.”

In any case, repairing a damaged home is real. Things get worse when housing is destroyed. There’s almost no opportunity to build new housing during the war. The shortage of building materials and high prices hinder commercial construction projects. The possibility of any new housing getting destroyed immediately casts doubt on the feasibility of this work.

Nevertheless, Ukrainians are building new houses and even shops a few dozen miles from the battles with the Russian army. This is the strongest demonstration of the Ukrainian spirit. Only the strongest in spirit can build real estate when military rockets and planes fly overhead, and artillery cannonade is heard all day long.

One new store was built on Chubarya Street in the village of Malotaranovka, near the city of Kramatorsk. In the same village on Fedka Street, a large two-story cottage was built. During the 10 months of the war, the Russians shelled this village about 10 times. In December, Russian rockets damaged a school there. And the battles with the Russian army throughout the war go on at a distance of 30 miles from this place.

SOLDIERS EAT THE BEST

Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are. This is how Ukrainians can describe the food market of their country. In times of peace, Ukrainians indulge themselves in delicious food. Today, those indulgences are over.

Now obtaining food depends on what attitude Ukrainians have to the war. War is the most profitable occupation in Ukraine. The more a Ukrainian is involved in the war, the greater the opportunity for a Ukrainian in the food market and vice versa.

Pets are a source of comfort for residents near the front line. This small pet store offers food, toys, and other items for cat and dog owners.

Retirees have the fewest opportunities, because pensioners are the poorest in Ukraine. Therefore, the elderly eat the worst. The average pension in Ukraine is only UAH 4,759 or $128 at the official exchange rate. There are 10.7 million pensioners in Ukraine, almost 25 percent of the total population of the country. 

Their opportunities are decreasing every month. After all, pensions increase more slowly than food prices rise. From January to October 2022, pensions increased by 19.2 percent. During the same period, products have risen in price by 32.8 percent.

Boneless meat costs almost $5 (UAH 185) per 2.2 pounds. Ten chicken eggs cost $1.80 (UAH 66). Good butter costs $9 (UAH 295) per 2.2 pounds. But in addition to food, pensioners have to buy medicine, clothes, and pay utility bills. 

There’s a catastrophic lack of money for this.

Alexander Prokopenko, a pensioner from Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, said:

“I’m 67 years old. But I have to work because my pension is very small. I used to guard a store. Now I help repair houses. It’s good that my wife and I have a garden. Our own fruits and vegetables help us survive. The Donbass has a good climate. We plant potatoes twice. Agriculture is good support. Since the beginning of the war, the government has also been helping with humanitarian aid. Thanks to the officials for this.”

Humanitarian aid is the best way for pensioners to be fed. The ability to get this help has become the main survival skill for elderly Ukrainians. There are three main rules for this: be sociable, be patient, and be physically strong. Since internet and mobile communications often don’t work, elderly people tell each other information about where to find humanitarian aid on the streets or in shops. The desire to help each other with information is the key to the survival of Ukrainian pensioners.

Wanting to get groceries, the elderly stand in line on the street for several hours. Pensioners do this in any weather, and possibly even during shelling. While waiting, there are many fights and scandals. People are afraid that they will not have enough food. Often people try to skip the line or cheat to get food. This creates a nervous atmosphere. Retirees need to be patient to endure this.

When the products are received, pensioners need to take them home. Often there is no public transport. Elderly people carry food on handcarts or bicycles. Many walk almost 6 miles to get home. But humanitarian aid weighs 11 to 22 pounds and possibly more. Sadly, only physically hardy people can do this.

Common foods include rice, pasta, canned fish, sugar, sunflower oil, and some canned pâté, milk, or sausages. In humanitarian aid, there’s no fresh meat, chicken eggs, butter, fruit, or alcohol. Humanitarian aid is food to survive, not to enjoy the taste.

However, military personnel can enjoy the taste of food. This category of Ukrainians has the greatest opportunities in the food market. Indeed, in addition to free food from the state, soldiers receive the highest average income in Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers are paid at least UAH 100,000 per month for participating in hostilities. This is $2,700 at the official exchange rate — that’s 21 times the average pension in Ukraine.

BLACK MARKET GOODS

Ukrainian soldiers can afford any food that money can buy. Price isn’t an obstacle, but there’s another problem. Some items aren’t available at any price. In areas near the fighting, the sale of alcohol is prohibited, but as usual, the ban only affects legal trade. Alcohol can still be bought illegally. 

To do this, the buyer must build trust with black market sellers of alcohol. The authorities are raiding illegal points of sale, so sellers may not deal with unfamiliar buyers.

Vendors offer fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement what locals are able to grow in their home gardens

Although selling alcohol on the black market is risky, it often pays off. For example, on the illegal market, a 2-liter bottle of beer costs $4.30 (UAH 160). This is almost triple the legal price of $1.60 (UAH 60).

FOOD SPECULATORS & DANGEROUS DELIVERIES

If a Ukrainian isn’t a soldier or a pensioner, then he or she may have average opportunities in the food market. To achieve this, a person needs to get a job and be experienced in buying food.

Unemployment in Ukraine is 30 percent. For those who can find work, the average monthly salary in Ukraine in 2022 is $380 (UAH 14,025). This is enough to buy all the products you want, but there’s an exception. If a Ukrainian lives near the fighting, the situation isn’t so good. Supermarkets with low prices don’t operate in these regions. Only small shops work there. Delivering food to battlefields is a very risky business. That’s why commercial firms don’t do it. All food is transported and sold by speculators. Often these people work illegally and don’t pay any taxes.

Fresh meat and fish are hard to get near the battlefield. Food speculators bring in small quantities from other regions, but prices are inflated.

Speculators visit small shops near the battlefield and ask the sellers what kind of goods they need and at what price. Having received orders, speculators go to large supermarkets that are far from the battlefields. 

In such stores, prices are low, and a person can buy smaller quantities of goods. Wholesale facilities aren’t a very good place for speculators to buy goods — although prices are lower, there’s a limited minimum purchase volume.

After buying from supermarkets, the food is taken to the battlefield in ordinary passenger sedans or pickup trucks. Speculators add their fees to the prices and sell their goods to the shop owners. 

Through this process, food makes its way to shops near the battlefields, but prices also increase by 30 to 40 percent due to the involvement of speculators.

For example, speculators carry goods to Bakhmut from supermarkets located in the city of Dnipro. Speculators can go there and back in one day. Their earnings per trip are $200 to $300 (UAH 7,000 to 12,000).

This isn’t the only illegal food trading scheme. Sometimes there are cases of reselling food that was meant to be distributed free of charge in the form of humanitarian aid. To prevent the sale of free food, the Ukrainian government has tightened criminal liability. Using such illegal schemes, some Ukrainians provide themselves with food at the expense of other Ukrainians. In areas close to battles, even working Ukrainians may be short of money to buy food.

There are no such problems in the rear regions of Ukraine. There, food prices are relatively low, and supermarkets still have a large selection of goods. Shortages of domestic food production are compensated by imports from Europe.

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

Internally displaced persons — those who were forced to leave their homes and move to other parts of Ukraine — receive material assistance from the state in the amount of $54 (UAH 2,000). There are also other cash payments. People who cannot find a job seek alternative forms of income. In rural areas, many people are engaged in agriculture. For example, cow owners selling milk earn about $17 (UAH 675) a day.

In addition, people buy products efficiently. For example, potatoes are bought in bulk during the fall harvest season for the whole winter ahead. During this period, potatoes are 30 to 50 percent cheaper. Onions, cabbages, and carrots are bought in bulk at the same time. This allows Ukrainians to save money. Many Ukrainians bake their own bread. Homemade bread is two to three times cheaper than bread sold in stores.

Hot meals, toiletries, and clothing are sold by small shops and street vendors in areas where bigger chains have shut down.

Svetlana Khromov, a housewife from Kramatorsk, said:

“A woman should know how to cook. This saves money and can save lives in war. I bake my own bread. Even taking into account the cost of electricity for baking bread, the savings are almost three times. To make 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of bread, I need only two to three hours and a 2.5kW electric oven. The bread is enough for two people for two days.”

Also, people save money by buying semi-finished products. For example, Ukrainians are very fond of making salted lard. It’s an excellent appetizer for soups and borscht, or it can be eaten on its own with bread and onions. Fresh fat costs $1.90 to $2.70 (UAH 70 to 100) per 2.2 pounds. 

At stores, salted lard costs $4 to $5.40 (UAH 150 to 200) per 2.2 pounds. By buying fresh lard and salting it at home, Ukrainians save almost half the cost of food. Salted lard can be stored for several months and doesn’t need to be heated. This is very important when there’s a blackout, and there’s no fuel. Lard has become a strategic food for survival in war.

Do not be lazy and then you will be full — Ukrainians live by this motto.

STAYING WARM

War destroys a comfortable life. Ukrainians cannot stop it, although some try. Those who choose not to regret the loss of comfort are better off. Rather than feeling defeated, they learn to accept their circumstances.

From February to October of the first year, the war was civilized. The Russians didn’t specifically attempt to destroy public utility infrastructure. However, on October 10, the situation changed. The Russians began to use missile strikes to cut off electricity, mobile communications, internet, heat, and water supplies to the population.

The worst thing is the lack of heat. In Ukraine, the average winter temperature is 23 degrees F. However, during some periods it gets as cold as -22 degrees F. During such periods, the lack of heating in homes can lead to death.

In Ukraine, 69 percent of the population lives in cities and 31 percent of the population lives in rural areas. In rural areas, only 44 percent of single-family homes are heated by stoves that burn wood or coal. That is, only about 15 percent of the population of Ukraine lives in housing where Putin cannot disrupt the heating. The remaining 85 percent of Ukrainians live in real estate that is heated centrally — usually by natural gas, or sometimes by oil or electricity. Russians can cut off access to these centralized fuel sources. 

So far, the Russians have made no attempt to destroy the natural gas supply system, which would destroy the heat supply nationwide. But the Russian army is trying to cut off electricity throughout Ukraine. The Russians are also destroying some large enterprises that heat apartment buildings in cities, leading to local shutdowns of heat supply to houses.

Wood-burning stoves are an important way to survive freezing winters. Due to shortages of fuel for heating, city residents are encouraged to live with friends or family in the countryside where wood stoves are available.

In the capitol city of Kyiv, people were forced to live for several days in cold apartments after shelling by Russians. The Ukrainian authorities expect the Russians to increase these heating disruptions, and officials understand that they cannot prevent this. 

Therefore, municipalities have already prepared a plan to drain the water from the heating systems so that the water doesn’t freeze. If the water freezes, the pipes will burst. The authorities acknowledge that the temperature in the apartments will be the same as outside. This means that it’ll be impossible to live in such apartments.

The mayors of some large cities have asked residents to leave for the countryside where there are houses with wood stoves. Most townspeople do not have relatives and friends in the countryside, so the only way to escape freezing cold is evacuation abroad. However, men aren’t allowed to leave the country, and many women and children do not want to travel without their husbands and fathers.

The authorities can only offer citizens the opportunity to warm up for a short time. This can be done in so-called “points of invincibility.” These are safe places with heat where Ukrainians can also charge electronic devices, drink tea, and learn the latest news. But eventually, these people will have to return to cold apartments.

While the majority of Ukrainians are waiting with fear for the shutdown of the heat supply, a few happy owners of stoves are trying to prepare firewood.

In three to five hours, one person using an ordinary saw and an ax can prepare as much firewood as necessary to heat a room of 107 square feet during the day. If you use a chainsaw and a car, the result will be better. However, this requires an investment. We also need money to buy firewood. The price of a cubic meter of firewood on the market is $40 to $48 (UAH 1,500 to 1,800) per 35 cubic foot without shipping costs.

The government of Ukraine gives citizens free firewood. Firewood is intended for residents of eight regions that are close to the fighting. $15.2 million (UAH 562.5 million) was allocated from the budget for the purchase of firewood. This money is enough to buy 8,828,666 cubic feet of firewood for 70,000 families.

GRID-DOWN POWER & WATER

Against the background of problems with heating, the lack of electricity doesn’t seem so terrible. Wealthy Ukrainians and businessmen overcome the lack of electricity by buying generators. The authorities are encouraging the import of this equipment by abolishing customs duties and VAT. 

Over the course of one year, the volume of generator imports increased by almost 33 times. The most popular among Ukrainian citizens are petrol and diesel generators with a capacity of 2.5 to 5 kW.

In order to survive the winter with the help of a generator, a Ukrainian family needs to spend from $1,490 to $2,222. We already know that the average salary in Ukraine is $380, so that’s four to six months of income, assuming that the citizen will not spend a single cent on other needs. Generators are very expensive for most Ukrainians. 

Therefore, many residents of Ukraine are fighting the darkness with cheaper means. One of them is car batteries. Ukrainians who own cars can use them to charge phones, tablets, and even laptops, but not large appliances such as the refrigerator. Ukrainians who don’t have cars use power banks or ordinary candles. 

Candles are the cheapest source of light. A candle that burns for eight hours costs only $0.81 (UAH 30). That is, the light from a candle during the day costs $2, and 100 days by candlelight will only cost $200. Only a fire will be cheaper.

In the absence of running water, the authorities provide free water to urban residents. Special vehicles deliver water to the yards of multistory residential buildings. This isn’t enough to bathe, but enough to prepare food and drink. The shops also sell drinking water. Prices start from $1.30 (UAH 50) per 1.3 gallons. It’s simpler in rural areas, since many have access to wells that have been preserved since ancient times.

COMMUNICATIONS

The lack of the internet and mobile communications create a hunger for information. The American Starlink system is the only salvation. This system gives internet and allows Ukrainians to use messenger apps instead of mobile communications. Elon Musk has done a lot to help Ukrainians. Several-months-old Starlink equipment was sold to Ukrainians at a special price of $385. 

There was also a special service cost of $60. However, prices have now risen again and are $700 for a set of equipment. The subscription price for the service has increased to $75. Starlink connected to the generator helps to avoid information hunger during a blackout.

It is hard for Ukrainians to live without Starlink, not knowing what’s happening. However, given that the news is mostly bad, the lack of internet and mobile communications can turn out not so bad. No news is also good news. This is a kind of motto for Ukrainians while waiting through a blackout.

MOVEMENT: YOU CAN TRAVEL, BUT YOU CAN’T LEAVE

Ukraine is experiencing a dramatic restriction on movement of the population. Although the law only controls the movement of men who can serve in the army, many women and children are indirectly restricted in their movement because they have relationships with men and depend on the freedom of movement of these men.

Children who love their fathers and women who love their men must make hard choices — stay close or leave and break up the family. This is especially challenging for Ukrainians who go abroad; 90 percent of them are children and women, and 82 percent left at least one family member in Ukraine.

Typically, the remaining family member is male. He’s a father or husband to those who have left. The current law turns evacuation abroad into the forced separation of the family. It’s not known how many women and children decided not to go abroad for this reason.

The situation is not so bad for Ukrainian families who are evacuated inside Ukraine. Men can move around the country. But having arrived at a new place of residence, men must register with the military. This allows the authorities to draft a man into the army even if he has changed his place of residence.

The authorities encourage immigration within the country. Adult Ukrainians who are evacuated to other regions of Ukraine are provided with $54 (UAH 2,000) each month. For a child or disabled person, $81 (UAH 3,000) is provided each month. The government also pays $24 (UAH 900) monthly to homeowners who provided housing for evacuees.

Regardless of where Ukrainians go, the government and numerous charitable organizations provide free transport to leave the war zone. There are entire columns of buses. Passenger trains are often used for these purposes as well. The main evacuation routes are designed to transport people from the eastern part of Ukraine to the central and western parts of Ukraine. There’s also free transport in Europe.

For example, from the Polish city of Przemysl, a train travels every other day to the German city of Hannover. This train carries only Ukrainian refugees. Thanks to support for immigration, Ukrainians can leave for free to any part of the country or even abroad.

Financial support is of great importance. Refugees tend to go where there’s more financial support. At the beginning of December, 13.7 million Ukrainians left their homes. 

Of them, 7.8 million left for Europe, where material support is greater. Only 5.9 million Ukrainians were evacuated to other parts of the country. Some refugees use the war as an opportunity to change their place of residence. According to various surveys, from 10 to 40 percent of refugees don’t want to return to Ukraine.

There are also illegal refugees in Ukraine. Most often, these are men subject to conscription into the army, or the families of these men. Not wanting to serve in the army, these men are trying to illegally flee Ukraine. During the first seven months of the war, about 8,000 illegal immigrants were caught. However, the authorities admit that “tens of thousands” have managed to escape from Ukraine.

Borodyanka, Ukraine – March 5, 2023: A Ukrainian family walks through the center of Borodyanka, past an apartment building that a year earlier had been bombed in the early days of the Russian invasion.

The cost of escaping Ukraine illegally is $1,400 to $2,400. Some men try to travel for free. To do this, they come up with various tricks. For example, one of the men dressed as a woman and tried to travel to Romania using his wife’s passport. However, the border guards noticed that his face didn’t match the photo on the passport. 

The most dangerous way to escape Ukraine is to Russia. In the Zaporozhye region, an illegal route was discovered to the territories occupied by Russian troops. Groups of people were driving cars on a dirt road, which was made through the battlefields. When it became widely known, the route was closed.

In addition to the desire to evacuate, some Ukrainians must travel for work or to see relatives. In wartime, even a trip to a neighboring city becomes a problem. 

Oksana Radko, the wife of a serviceman, has made five round trips across Ukraine from Kramatorsk to the city of Rivne:

“To travel all over Ukraine by bus, you need two days. You hardly sleep during this time because there is no direct bus route. You have to change from one bus to another. 

Buses stop only before curfew. Then, the buses go non-stop all night, with one early morning stop for 15 minutes. Not all buses have toilets. Therefore, passengers must be patient. If you want to eat, also be patient. Afternoon buses stop, but only for a short time. You have to choose to either go to the toilet or buy food. On trips, bring food and water with you, but very few other things. If you have a lot of things, it’s hard to change from one bus to another.”

SECURITY CHECKPOINTS

The main problem with travel is road checkpoints. At the very beginning of the war, there were more than 1,500 checkpoints in Ukraine. However, by mid-March, the authorities reduced the total number of checkpoints to 800. These checkpoints are located only at the entrance and exit from settlements, as well as near bridges, to ensure security throughout Ukraine.

Checkpoints slow down the movement of cars very much. But the fate of a Ukrainian can also change at checkpoints. After all, one of the functions of checkpoints is to hand notifications about the need to serve in the army. 

The Law of Ukraine on Conscription doesn’t contain a clear list of places where men need to be served notices of military service. Since a lot of people go through checkpoints, officials often do it there. In addition, a car belonging to a Ukrainian can be confiscated at a checkpoint. There’s a law that allows it. This can be done if there’s a written order from the commander of the military unit who guards the checkpoint. The car owner can then claim financial compensation for it.

At checkpoints, police officers can ask any questions, conduct a personal inspection, inspect phones and gadgets, and search a car.

Despite all the difficulties, the use of checkpoints has had a powerful effect. During the 10 months of the war, the National Police found 742 wanted people during checks at checkpoints. About 5,200 suspicious people were also detained at checkpoints, and more than 2,700 wanted vehicles were found.

INFRASTRUCTURE DAMAGE & FUEL COSTS

The movement of Ukrainians around the country is also limited by the effects of the hostilities. The war has destroyed 350 bridges, 14,912 miles of highways, and 3,914 miles of railroads. The Russian military has also destroyed approximately 200,000 civilian vehicles.

Movement is also complicated by the rising cost of fuel. The average cost of gasoline and diesel increased by 60 percent in 2022. In areas near the fighting, the cost of fuel is much higher, with prices exceeding the national average by 20 to 30 percent. 

Also, in some regions, there may be a shortage of certain types of fuel. Prices are rising due to growing demand. Ukrainians began to use gasoline and diesel fuel for generators. Also, prices are increasing due to the fact that gas stations have begun to use autonomous sources of power supply.

Thanks to legal restrictions, checkpoints, military destruction, and rising fuel prices, most Ukrainians already know how hard the road is in wartime. But the main thing isn’t to deceive yourself, hoping that somewhere around the corner there will be happiness. Therefore, while traveling many Ukrainians say, “It’s good where we are not.”

AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE

The war continues to test Ukrainians every second. No one knows what the next test will be. But it’s indisputable that the war has had a strong impact on Ukraine — it’ll never be the same as before. The only question is what Ukraine will be like after the war. The result depends on every Ukrainian showing their true colors in the face of adversity. 

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