“We do not have to tolerate the attacks that are carried out on us,” Pavel, a police investigator from Kharkiv, told us. “We must respond and ... put the aggressor in his place.”
Reporters from Kyiv Post took to the streets of the capital to gauge peoples’ reactions to Ukraine’s drone attack against the Russian capital on Monday, in what Kyiv described as a “special operation”.
One crashed in Komsomolsky Prospekt, near the defense ministry, while the other hit a business center on Likhacheva Street near one of Moscow’s main ring roads.
In an exclusive comment to Kyiv Post, Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR) vowed such attacks would “continue and increase in scale.”
Though damage was minimal and no casualties were reported, the psychological effect on the Russian population was evident on social media where a mix of conspiracy theories, shock and outrage were loudly aired.
“A year ago, we could not even think that war and explosions would come to Moscow,” one person wrote. “And here it is already, repeatedly.”
Another explicitly called for the targeting of civilians as revenge, writing: “We are waiting for the real retaliatory strikes on 20 non-residential objects in Kyiv.”
Pavel from Kharkiv. PHOTO: Kyiv Post
On the streets of Kyiv shortly after the attack, there were no celebrations but there was little sympathy for Muscovites who find themselves on the other end of an aerial attack.
“I believe that after what this country did to our country, after hundreds of people died in our country, after children were brought to hospitals with severed limbs, and pregnant women gave birth under the wrecks of buildings during the bombing, I believe that our country, our military, have the right to strike where they see fit,” 43-year-old mathematics teacher, Natalia Dudina, told Kyiv Post.
Those living in the capital are more than used to the scenes that played out in Moscow on Monday. Since October of last year, Kyiv has been bombarded hundreds of times.
In May this year alone, Russia has fired more than 500 missiles and kamikaze drones at Ukraine, most of them at the capital.
“Most of the people want them to feel what we feel at the moment,” 21-year-old English teacher, Anna Milhevska, told our correspondents.
“And no foreigner can understand this, only us.”
Another woman who didn’t want to be named echoed this sentiment, noting the stark lack of Russian opposition to the campaign of missile strikes launched against Ukraine.
“Moscow deserves it,” she said. “They do not feel sorry for us, so we should not feel sorry for them.
“I have not seen a single civilian Russian who does not support this war. Therefore, I do not sympathize with them in any way.”
Kyiv’s promise to escalate attacks on Moscow raises the question of what people see as justifiable targets.
Pavel believes that “for now” it is right to limit attacks to “primarily military facilities,” which he believed would serve as a warning for Russian civilians.
“The inhabitants of Russia, who are ordinary local residents, civilians, will realize that the same fate can befall them as us,” he told Kyiv Post.
It’s a sentiment shared by all those Kyiv Post spoke to.
Maria told Kyiv Post: "I think it should all return as a boomerang on Russia, on Moscow. I think it would be right if it would all turn back on them." PHOTO: Kyiv Post
No one called for the indiscriminate targeting of civilians but there was a strong desire for Russians to experience a taste of the terror the Kremlin has inflicted upon Ukraine.
“Of course, if somewhere got hit and children suffered, civilian people, it’s a pity for everyone,” said Dudina. “But so many of our people have suffered, so many broken, broken lives and everything else.
“So, they’ve got to understand.”
There is one group of non-military people that some Ukrainians believes could be a legitimate target for attack: Kremlin’s propagandists.
“They have so many people there that spread unreliable information and horrible, horrible lies,” said Milhevska.
“And I think those people, they are likely to be hit, maybe.
“But I think those are the people that we hate the most, really, because they spread horrible lies and we cannot understand that.”
In the wake of the attack on Moscow, one the Kremlin’s chief propagandists, Vladimir Solovyov, called for the government district of Kyiv to be razed to the ground, just a day after he had called for the destruction of Odesa.
Russian propagandist Solovyev: we won't preserve Odesa. We'll destroy it. And then we'll rebuild it. " pic.twitter.com/rJI3bgBdv9— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 24, 2023
Asked why these Russians appear to hate Ukraine so much, one anonymous woman told us: “They want Ukraine, because we have fertile soil, we have great food, we have cool people, we are all literate and cultured.
“They only have Vodka.”
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