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Ukrainians in the Netherlands: ‘This scares me very much’

Ukrainians in the Netherlands follow developments in their country with great concern. The Kremlin has sent a large force to the border between Ukraine and Russia. An invasion is feared, while Europe and the US are desperately trying to find a diplomatic way out.

“The situation has never been so tense,” says Dmytro (34) who has lived in the Netherlands for ten years. His wife’s family lives near the border. “The threat is great, they are in danger if there is a Russian invasion.”

The situation is more serious than in recent years, says Vita Kovalenko, who has family and friends in the eastern Donbass region. “We have been used to the threat of war for years, the war on the eastern frontier has never stopped. But this is different. We are concerned and have a lot of contact with family and friends. I have young cousins ​​who are ready to fight. They can become evoked, that evokes a lot of emotions.”

Since Russia annexed the southern peninsula of Crimea in 2014, fighting has been going on in the Donbass between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces. “It’s like sitting on a barrel of gunpowder. You wait for something to happen, the people in Ukraine are used to that tension,” says Serge Radochyn, who lives in Gelderland.

“The difference now is that people are making plans to protect their loved ones and to move the elderly to safer places, away from the areas where the risk of fighting is greatest.”

‘Stubborn to the last’

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Now that Putin has allowed more than 100,000 men to advance towards the border, he must take an action to prevent loss of face, the Ukrainians in the Netherlands fear. “The Russians want to prove them right at all costs. Even if this leads to economic sanctions, they remain stubborn until the last,” says Vita Kovalenko. “Because losing face is the worst thing that can happen to her. That scares me very much.”

She fears “massive consequences” and possibly an “all-out war” if Russia even crosses the border with Ukraine by an inch. “If the first tank crosses the border, there is no going back and then it won’t stop after a few days. If the Russian army enters Kharkov, they will continue to Kiev.”

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