Russian foreigners are fighting alongside Ukrainians against their own country

They are fighting in their own way, torn between their homeland and their adopted country, and their Russian passport prevents them from joining the Ukrainian army.

The young woman, originally from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, took refuge in the nationalist stronghold of Lviv in western Ukraine, where she faced several advances by the Russian army into bombing Kiev. “I feel safer here than in Russia,” promises this sociologist and computer scientist with multi-colored treadlocks.

Torn between the motherland and the adopted country

Russian invasion captures Russians living in Ukraine. In this country of 40 million people, for some, it is a subtle, dangerous situation when every Russian citizen is now the enemy.

At the end of January, about 175,000 Russians had obtained residence permits in Ukraine, the state migration service told AFP. Since Ukraine does not have a visa regime with Russia, many may be illegal there.

“At first I was too ashamed to be Russian,” says Kalina Jabina, who spent several days under bombings in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city in the east. “Then I was so angry, I was ready to throw myself into a tank with my bare hands, but there were no tanks, just air strikes,” explains the 36-year-old advertising editor, who “absolutely” does not believe Moscow can beat it. War.

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Maria Trushnikova, a 43-year-old English teacher who has lived in Ukraine for twenty years but always feels Russian, says she is experiencing an identity crisis. “Ukraine has shame, anger, pride, everything within me,” he told AFP. And “a terrible vacuum instead of nationalism.”

Identity crisis

Andrei Sidorkin settled in Kiev fifteen years ago, but it was only after the Russian invasion that he realized he was definitely home there, not wanting to go anywhere. During the two-week war, the 40-year-old man became accustomed to explosives and anti-aircraft sirens and repeatedly tried to join the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but was unsuccessful because of his Russian passport.

“If Russian troops ever enter Kiev, I would like to welcome them with weapons, not empty-handed,” said Mr Molotov, who prepares cocktails with other volunteers while waiting. Said Sidorkin.

Divided families

For many, the war has destroyed relations with relatives in Russia who do not support the invasion or condemn Moscow.

“I rarely talk to anyone anymore,” she says. Jabina. “My friends hide their heads in the sand. My family invites me back to Russia. They do not understand why I did not do it.” From her family, Sacha Alexeeva only communicates with her 88-year-old grandmother.

She is sad to think that she can never see him again. “But when you hear that an 18-month-old baby has been killed (Russian strikes, according to the author), you no longer think about your grandmother,” the young woman insists.

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Yulia Kutchenko, founder of a kindergarten in Kiev, says her mother and sisters in Moscow are supportive of Ukraine, but it is difficult to understand their inaction, despite brutal repression by Russian authorities. “I’m very scared of them, but I still want them to take to the streets,” says the 44-year-old, who now feels Ukrainian and considers Russia an “enemy.”

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