Senkivka, Ukraine, Feb 9 (EFE).- Despite the brewing storm, the ‘Three Sisters’ monument of friendship between Ukraine, Belarus and Russia still stands tall at the three-way land border crossing of Senkivka.
The monument, erected in 1975, was built as a symbol of brotherhood of the three peoples.
Until 2013, before Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the former Soviet nations would open their borders every year to celebrate cultural festivals together.
But since, it has been heavily destroyed and its symbol put into question 55 years after its erection.
In 2014, the three-way brotherhood dissolved when Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea and said Belarus would take sides with Russia in an eventual war with Ukraine.
Eight years later, Russia and Belarus still stand together against Ukraine.
The “Allied Resolve-2022” Russian-Belarusian military drills are set to kick off Thursday near the Ukrainian border.
The joint exercises between Moscow and Minsk will involve over 30,000 troops, special operations forces, fighters, Iskander missiles and S-400 anti-aircraft systems.
While Western allies and Nato have expressed fear that Russia is planning an attack on Ukraine, Moscow has denied accusations while Minsk has called the suspicions “ridiculous”.
But in Senkivka, tension has become common practice and the imminent military exercises have not increased fear.
“Everything is very calm, nothing has changed,” a border guard patrolling the checkpoint tells Efe.
“Those who were afraid have already left. Otherwise everyone else understands that nothing is going to happen here,” a Ukrainian cargo truck driver waiting his turn to cross the border, Igor, tells Efe.
Igor says that invading this part of Ukraine would have made sense some forty years ago before independence, when it was an emerging and flourishing region.
“There used to be businesses, factories, they scrapped everything and sold it for nothing, today it is literally bankrupt,” he tells Efe.
Meanwhile, Oleg, a Ukrainian cab driver, still has faith in the three-way brotherhood.
“How can you shoot at someone who is equal to you, if everything can be solved peacefully,” he tells Efe.
Nato has warned the Russian military buildup in Belarus is the biggest deployment since the Cold War, but locals prefer to continue with business as usual. EFE