‘This is a bumpy long road’: the mood among Moscow residents

Like many of her friends, Tatyana, a barista at the fashionable Moscow coffee-shop chain Skuratov, was glued to the screen of her mobile phone as Vladimir Putin addressed the nation.

“Usually, I don’t watch television, especially when our president speaks. But I felt like I had to tune in this time. I was witnessing history in the making,” she said, smoking an e-cigarette. “But I am not sure yet if history is going in the right direction.”

The day after the Russian leader’s late-night speech in which he recognised the independence of the self-proclaimed republics in Luhansk and Donetsk, Muscovites were digesting what Putin’s decision could mean for them and their futures.

While he ended his address by “congratulating” fellow Russians on the recognition of the two territories, a celebratory mood was absent in the capital, with many fretting about the political and economic consequences his decision might have.

“If the recognition brings peace to the region, fine, why not do it,” said Andrei, a regional director at a large logistics firm in Moscow. “But it is already costing me money. I have invested a lot of my savings in shares of Russian companies.”

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What are the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk?

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The self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk are two territories run by separatist governments widely seen as Russian proxy states inside Ukraine. Since 2014, they have been in conflict with Kyiv, which refers to them as “temporarily occupied territories”, similar to Crimea. They have received military and financial backing from Moscow since they declared their existence after the Ukrainian revolution in 2014.

The territories cover an area of about 6,500 sq miles and were primarily known before the war for their heavy industry and coal mining. Donetsk, the largest city, previously had an international airport and hosted matches during the Uefa Euro 2012 championship. The fighting has destroyed the airport…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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