War intensifies, but Ukraine tries to resume “normality”

Ucraniana segura bandeira do país em protesto em frente à embaixada russa em Bangkok, na Tailândia

Ukrainian holds the country’s flag in protest in front of the Russian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand


I left Ukraine last Wednesday after two months of uninterrupted news coverage of the war. On the bus that took me from Lutsk to the Polish border, I still saw many women and children fleeing the war. When we arrived at the border in Dorohusk, we spent hours in a long line formed by other buses like ours and hundreds of cars. The UN estimates that more than 5.4 million refugees have left the country since the beginning of the war, in 24 of February.

But the The opposite movement, back to Ukraine, is also growing. Also according to the UN, more than 1 million people would have returned to the country – especially after Russian troops withdrew from the vicinity of the capital, at the end of March.

This return movement was evident when I crossed the border to the Polish side. A line of kilometers of vehicles waited to enter Ukraine. The volume of cars and trucks reminded me of the lines of refugees that formed on the Ukrainian side at the beginning of the war.

What drew the most attention was the number of cars being taken in trucks to Ukraine – possibly an attempt by the population to replace their destroyed goods. There were also heavy agricultural machinery and countless trucks full of products.

) That is, I leave the country at a time when people are trying to regain some degree of normality in their lives. At the same time, news of the war begins to repeat itself, such as: “Lviv suffers bombing” or “A new attempt to form a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians fails”.

Although this type of headline may give the reader the notion that the war has stabilized, this is not exactly what is happening on the ground.

Live War Games: Can the war in Ukraine reach Moldova?

Russia’s attacks are increasingly intense in eastern and southern Ukraine and the front line has not yet consolidated . Furthermore, there is still the threat that Moscow may resort to tactical nuclear weapons in an eventual escalation of the conflict.

A war of movement was initially expected, with quick conquests of cities. But what you see on the battlefield is a war of attrition – where a lot of firepower and deaths result in small conquests of territory.

In other words, the time of the war does not correspond to the time of the media: while the conflict increases in intensity, the interest of a part of the readers, already saturated with news from a distant battlefield.

But the War Games column will continue coverage of the details of the war in Ukraine. Readers of Gazeta do Povo interested in military issues will continue to find the strategic, political and diplomatic developments of the conflict along these lines. Especially the geopolitical and economic consequences that since February are transforming the world we know.

Spelling question

Writing from Wlodawa, a Polish city located on the triple border with Ukraine and Belarus, I take the opportunity to address a question of politics and spelling: the way of writing the names of Ukrainian cities. Carried away by the daily events of the war, I hadn’t had time to discuss the matter until now.

Mainly out of habit and to facilitate the reader’s understanding, we have been spelling the name of the Ukrainian capital in the Russian way: Kiev. That’s how it appeared on older maps, in computer spell checkers, and in old Brazilian press writing manuals, full of conventions and preciosity.

But the world changes and I think we need to adopt more pragmatic approaches. At least since Russian separatists invaded eastern Ukraine, the local government has been spreading the use of the Ukrainian language, not Russian, inside and outside the country – although it is present in the daily lives of Ukrainians. President Volodymyr Zelensky only speaks in Ukrainian, even in press interviews and even fluent in English.

As the name of Ukrainian cities is no longer just a matter of spelling to become a political issue, the western press began to spell the names of cities according to the language of the country that controls it. Thus, the name of the capital Kiev became spelled in Ukrainian: Kyiv.

The same goes for Odessa, which becomes Odesa. We have already been referring to some cities by their Ukrainian names, such as Lviv (Lvov in Russian), Kharkiv (Kharkov) and Zaporizhzhia (Zaporozhzhia) and we will keep that in the next reports.

The question of Donbas (Donbass, in Russian), where the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk are located, is more complex. Part of its territory is in the hands of breakaway republics. But only Russia recognizes them with this status internationally. So I think the best option for now is to use the Ukrainian name. Of course, this could change over the course of the war, depending on the success of the Russian campaign.

I apologize in advance if I’m missing any semantic or historical issues, but the goal is just to adopt some kind of pragmatic standardization.

News in sight

The Ukrainians’ attempt to regain some kind of normalcy in the country seems to be more resignation than optimism. Nobody gets used to missile bombardments or thinks it’s normal for their city to suffer from air attacks from time to time. What seems to have passed was the initial panic of a large-scale Russian invasion across the country.

But this is not ruled out. On May 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin will lead a grand civic parade in Moscow to commemorate the day Russians celebrate the end of World War II.

Western analysts expect that by that date Russia will stop calling the war in Ukraine a “special military operation” and formally assume its real name. : war. In practice, this would mean the understanding that the campaign becomes a matter of Russia’s survival and Putin unlocks the possibility of intensifying the conscription of Russian soldiers.

Another possibility is that the Kremlin will claim some kind of victory on the battlefield, such as the annexation of provinces like Donetsk, Luhansk or Kherson (the first major region conquered by Russia at the beginning of the war).

There is still the possibility that nothing new happens.

But while speculating about it , Russia continues its invasion of the Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol – the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city -, in a close fight, in the underground corridors of the complex. It may prove to be one of the most violent in the future in the future.

The artillery cannons also continue to sound in Donbas, amid Russian advances and Ukrainian counter-attacks.

The possibility that, on May 9, Putin will be satisfied with the gains so far on the battlefield and negotiate a ceasefire seems increasingly remote.

Thus, the signs point to a long war and people’s dwindling interest in it.

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