At the border post of Novoazovsk, locals say that things are quiet and life is going on as it always does.Polaris
Like many people in eastern Ukraine, which is considered the industrial heartland for the country, Kolnichenko said Novoazovsk residents resent the feeling that the region’s industry has been the main source of economic revenue for the central government, as compared the more rural western districts. Many also are skeptical of the protesters who have occupied the regional administration in Donetsk since Sunday and show now sign of compromising.
“What are people going to do? They’re going to cut us off from Russia?” she said. “Why do we need independence? We just need someone to put things in order. It’s complete anarchy now. We just a need legitimate president.”
Natilya Kostykoba, who was walking home from buying groceries with her mother and her 18-month-old son, said everyone in Novoazovsk had relatives across the border in Russia. She said she thought the events in Donetsk, as well as the events that roiled Kyiv and ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, were organized and paid for by outsiders and foreigners, though she refused to say who.
“We have no work here. We don’t need independence. We need someone who can open up businesses and bring in investment instead of divide the people,” said Kostykoba, who is on maternity leave from her job in Donetsk working for a medical equipment supply company.
At the border crossing on Thursday, a line of trucks idled on the road shoulder up on the Ukrainian side leading away from the crossing; drivers were eating meals, sleeping and killing time before heading west deeper in Ukraine. Sasha Pukhmerov, 28, said he and his father were taking break on the road home to the port of Odessa — Ukraine’s largest — after having delivered a cargo of sheep and pigs to the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan, about 1,300 miles to the east, about a two-week roundtrip journey.
He said the cross-border traffic on their journey seemed unchanged, and there was no impression of a heightened military presence anywhere. In fact, the roads of the southern Russian region of Stavropol and the turbulent North Caucasus region, home to Chechnya and Dagestan, were much more dangerous, with soldiers and officers armed with automatic weapons patrolling on what seemed to be every crossroads, he said.
“What happens to us here, in Donetsk, in Odessa; it’s not up to us. It’s up to the elites who do whatever is most beneficial for their own interested,” he said. “We don’t get any say in the matter whatsoever.”