Olexandr Vilkul is a former deputy prime minister of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. He has also been famous for his pro-Russian views in the past. For many Ukrainians in the past, he resented the inclination to Soviet inheritance and membership in the opposition party, which was later dissolved due to pro-Russian ties.
The current mayor of Kryvyi Rih was addressed the day after the war by former Yanukovych’s former interior minister Vitaly Zacharchenko. “Looking at the map, you can see that the situation is clear in advance,” Vilkula said of his former colleague. “Sign a friendship and cooperation agreement with Russia and you will do well,” he urged. But Vilkula was not convinced. “I answered vulgarly,” the mayor said The New York Times.
But the Russians kept trying. Former Ukrainian MP Oleg Tsarjov, who fled to Russia and later returned, called on Vilkula that “cooperation with the Russian army means saving the city and the lives of the people.” But the mayor called him a traitor and sent him to the same places where the Ukrainian soldiers sent russian warship.
The logistical problems and the overall unpreparedness of the Russians for longer-term military operations suggest that Moscow apparently expected its blitzkrieg to be successful thanks to the support of the population. This was to welcome Russian soldiers as their liberators, just as it was in the Crimea. Putin himself seems obsessed ideathat the Ukrainians are Russia’s smaller “brothers” who drive the intrigues of the West away from their larger spiritual counterpart.
This idea in isolated Putin has apparently been backed for a long time by intelligence officials, who have promised to support the Ukrainian population. One of them was the head of the operational information department of the FSB secret service, Sergei Talk tasked with setting up so-called “Antimaydans” in a neighboring country. However, he used the money intended to provoke a nationwide uprising against the regime in Kiev for his own enrichment and ended up in prison.
“For years, they have lied to themselves that the people of Ukraine have been waiting for Russia when it arrives,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Moscow. “But they will not find collaborators here who will hand over the city and power to the raiders,” he added.
We will not give Kharkov
The activities of some Ukrainian local government officials only confirm Zelenský slova. For example, Kharkov was considered a pro-Russian city before the war, and in 2014 it looked like it would join the Donbas separatists. At the time, they also suspected the current mayor, Igor Terechov, of pro-Russian ties. But during the war, the city became a pillar of the Ukrainian defense and the mayor became a man who refused hand over the city to the Russians.
Vilkul himself is now chairman of the city’s Kryvyi Rih, which is working with fighters from the ultra-nationalist Right Bloc, a group accused by the Russians of neo-Nazism, to defend against the Russians.
“Putin thinks that whoever speaks Russian is also a Russian patriot.” said Vilkul, why the Russians underestimated the Ukrainian resistance. “He thinks that when there are similarities between us, we are waiting for Russian liberation. But no one is waiting for them. Everyone will arm themselves and fight with them, “the mayor added.
According to him, Vilkula and other mayors from eastern Ukraine contacted the Russians as early as 2014. “The time of chaos is over, you should follow Moscow’s orders if you want to stay in office,” said Russia. He refused. “They didn’t even try to convince us. They thought we would automatically be on their side, “Vilkul criticized the Russian” megalomania. “
Some residents of Kryvyi Rih admit that they feared that Vilkul’s evacuation order did not hide the transfer of power to the Russians. But the local mayor eventually convinced himself that he was fighting for them. “I am convinced that Vilkul will not change his coat. We are all united now, “thinks local politician Sergei Popovich
In some occupied places, the Russians find the willing collaborators, but more often they encounter hatred. Even in the eastern regions, where a large part of the population has traditionally viewed the Kiev government with distrust and developed pro-Russian ties, the invasion fundamentally changed their minds. “Putin enlightened us with his bombing. At least the hopeless cases, “says Nadja Gorďuková from Toreck, Ukraine in the Donetsk region.
“Sure, there are some supporters of the Russian worldview in the population, but they are declining every day. People see that reality is not what Russian propaganda promised, “says teacher Anna Ukrajinsková from Berdyansk. “It’s poverty, violence and destruction,” he concludes.