Conflicts & War

Ukrainians attempt to lead normal life while awaiting counter-offensive

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, May 1 (EFE).- Ukrainian authorities are cautioning against excessively high expectations surrounding a much-anticipated counter-offensive, while less than half of the population expect the war to end this year and citizens attempt to lead a normal life and support their army any way they can.

Ninety-three percent of Ukrainians believe their country will eventually emerge triumphant over Russia, according to the Kyiv-based Razumkov Centre’s latest survey in March.

Just under half of those polled said they expect victory to be achieved by the end of 2023.

Although Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said preparations for the counter-offensive are “nearing the finish line,” he and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have recently sounded a cautionary tone, with the latter warning it might take more than one swift attack to liberate the Russian-held Ukrainian territory.

While hoping for a quick end to the war, Ukrainians have no choice but to keep leading as normal a life as possible amid bitter reports from the front line and Russian missile strikes.

“Trying to find small joys amid the immense grief” is how Tetiana Zhavzharova, head of the environmental NGO “Ecosense,” signed a picture she took in Lviv over the weekend.

Her visit there has been her first trip away from the front line city of Zaporizhzhia in the more than 14 months since Russia’s invasion.

The contrast between her home city and Lviv, located some 1,000 km (620 miles) to the west, is striking. While in Zaporizhzhia alarm sirens, lines to receive humanitarian aid and echoes of explosions have become a regular part of daily life, the mood in Lviv is fortunately much lighter, she told Efe.

Tens of thousands of tulips that were donated to the city by the Netherlands have blossomed, attracting locals and displaced Ukrainians who have found refuge in the city.

Those flowers in bloom during the second spring of the war provide a sharp contrast to the grim reality on the ground.

“Life is difficult, yet it’s necessary to look for things that make it brighter and nicer,” said Tetiana, who is coping psychologically with the war by adhering to the “small joys” approach espoused by her colleague, psychologist Victoria Sokolova.

“Even if all we see is a fire after a bombing, we should try to spot something like a flower to help us ground our emotions and give us hope,” she explained.

The “Ecosense” leader says staying active professionally, breaking down plans into small steps and supporting those in special need of help also have helped her weather the sheer unpredictability and chaos of the war.

“You never know whether you and your loved ones are going to be alive tomorrow or not,” Tetiana said, stressing that it is easier for those who are active than for those who tend to stay in their apartments and are inundated by frightening news reports.

“You feel stronger when you help others,” she added.

Tetiana said she feels a degree of apprehension about the counter-offensive, knowing how difficult it will be for the soldiers. Like many Ukrainians, however, she is doing more than simply waiting for it to commence.

“Everyone is trying to help, be it by weaving camouflage nets, donating to the army or helping the families of the soldiers,” she said.

Signs of the war are everywhere in Lviv, with military green vehicles parked in the center of the city and uniform-clad soldiers walking with their families while on a short leave.

Nearly every day, the hustle and bustle of downtown Rynok Square stops abruptly in the morning. A trumpet melody pierces the silence as locals bid farewell to one or several fallen soldiers before their bodies are taken to the cemetery.

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