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The biggest mistake

Do you know what has changed for the past week? On the first days of war, one of the most difficult moments was to wake up after a short uneasy sleep. To take smartphones and open news feeds was frightening – it could turn out that in those few hours, Kyiv surrendered.

The fear has already subsided: partly because of our confidence in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and partially because of the systemic miscalculations of the Russian occupants. But first and foremost my confidence is grounded on my firm belief in the residents of Kyiv, in all my Kyivan acquaintances, who have joined the territorial defence units in such a flow. These are mostly so talented and successful people that there’s no doubt left for me – they will kill their enemies equally masterfully.

There is another factor impossible to be measured and calculated, but incredibly easy to perceive. By coincidence, on the last day of peace, I went to Kyiv. The day was fine and warm, and there was an hour and a half before my interview on the Livy bereh (The Left Bank) started. I took the underground to travel from the right side of Kyiv to the left, out of do-nothing-ness.

While travelling on the high-speed train below the Dnipro river, all of a sudden the feeling of freedom and the broad expanse overwhelms you. In combination with the rhythm of the modern megalopolis, this creates an air of huge potential around it. The scale, the distance, the millions of people, and the rows of skyscrapers make one believe in the strong power of the city.

My personal relations with Kyiv are complicated and ambiguous. I left the city with the impression of dislike after having spent two years there. The Revolution of Dignity has radically changed this attitude of mine. On the last pre-war day, while passing over the Dnipro river and strolling along Khreshchatyk (central avenue in the historical centre of the city) I kept pondering: I disliked the city but admired it, I admire its power.

Paradoxically, I dislike Kyiv for the same reason as I admire it. I dislike it for the human anthill of the city, for its mad rush, for its vast tiresome, its striking breach between the richest and the poorest, for its coldness and its show-off attitude. I admire it simultaneously – our capital is the one most dynamic cities in Europe, a genuine megalopolis, a magnet for money and ambitions, the Ukrainian Babylon of some kind, quite cosy and atmospheric.

Not only Kyiv is the capital, but also it is the symbol of Ukraine. No other place has benefited so much from Ukrainian independence as Kyiv did. Its active centrism drew the most active, the most ambitious, and the most entrepreneurial (in the dark deeds as well) layer of society from all other regions of Ukraine. It’s our America, the land of opportunity and money, of limitless potential and a quickly carved-out career. It is also a city of freedom, dignity and reasonable self-assurance – as proved by two revolutions.

Today, the enemy tries to encircle Kyiv under the disguise of a temporary standstill. Not only to kill Zelensky and stage a coup d’état – to wipe the city off is not the matter of the least importance for the Russians. They have already done this to the peaceful Eden of the middle class, its suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin – and in the coming days and hours, they will attempt to strike a tremendous blow on the capital itself. Because killing Kyiv means killing the Ukrainian dream, the Ukrainian example is set to follow it.

And that is why the enemy is doomed for defeat. While Kyiv is no more than a military target for the occupants, for us, it is our capital, the most successful city in Ukraine, it’s in fact the enclave of the EU considering the standards of living and income rates. Every Ukrainian in one way or another holds’ attachment to Kyiv, has emotional bonds to the city, relatives, or acquaintances. Kyiv is the muscle of our country, the heart muscle.

Every writer will tell you that Kyiv alone purchases more books than all the other Ukrainian cities put together. That is, the city, where people line up in queues in front of the Book Arsenal, is in a medieval way besieged by the barbarians.

In the coming days, we are going to get through the biggest and most important battle of this war – the battle for Kyiv. I put “get through ” because Putin’s mistake, one of them, is to set unrealistic goals. Given the amount of his cannon fodder, he could have achieved a lot of goals in Ukraine, but there are a few things that are beyond his abilities.

With his decision to capture the city, Putin destined himself to suffer defeat. For Kyiv is uncapturable. At least as long as there are us.

8th March, 01:19 p.m.

Ukrainian Text by Andriy Liubka. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Mar 13, 2022

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