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Russians in Singapore say they are shocked, upset by invasion of Ukraine

Russians in Singapore say they are shocked, upset by invasion of Ukraine
Russian army military vehicles are seen in Armyansk, Crimea, on Feb 25, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Stringer)

SINGAPORE: Russians in Singapore said they are shocked and upset after their country invaded Ukraine.

They spoke to CNA on Friday (Feb 25) - a day after Russia invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea.

At least 137 people were killed and 316 injured in Ukraine on the first day of fighting, with explosions heard in the capital Kyiv early Friday.

One Russian who has been living in Singapore with her husband and three children for 14 years, and who wants to be known only as Ms Alexandra, said her family in Singapore is "sad and disappointed".

"Now, everyone in the world will think that Russians are crazy. We feel ashamed," said the 44-year-old business owner. 

Like other Russians CNA spoke to, she said that the news have been hard to accept, calling it "scary and painful" and a "nightmare". 

"War for me is history, it is black and white cinema, it is history textbooks, archives, it is the past, I believed that it will never exist again and never will," she said. She added that she has been following the news closely and feeling down.

"It is difficult to concentrate on the day's routine, there is no mood, nothing pleases," she said. 

She does not understand why her country's president Vladimir Putin decided to start the war, she said. 

"It is just unbelievable how he can bomb Ukraine," she said. 

"What was the need? We could not believe this happened. It will have catastrophic consequences for both countries." 

Another Russian, a Permanent Resident who has been living here for 15 years, said "everybody is in shock" over what is happening. 

"It's crazy that the war started. It's not supported by many people" she said, adding that the situation is "very sad". 

She did not want to be identified as she did not want to be seen as supporting either side. 

She said that the friendship between Russians and Ukrainians is "very deep". 

"Nobody wanted it (the war) to ever happen," she said. "Everybody wants it to stop."

A "DIFFICULT DECISION"

Mr Alexander Kuznetsov, an international school owner who has been living in Singapore for 10 years, said that while invading other countries is against international law, this is a "difficult decision". 

The 50-year-old said that there are other factors that need to also be considered. For instance, he said that there were thousands of people who were killed by Ukrainians in the mining basin Donbas and Luhansk, which are on the border with Russia. 

The regions have been locked in armed conflict with Kyiv’s army since a Kremlin-backed armed uprising following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

"The international community almost didn't do anything to stop it," he said, adding that Russians with relatives in the regions would have put pressure on the Government to stop the killing. 

Mr Kuznetsov also said that the family bonds between Russians and Ukrainians run deep. 

"Normally, we work together and live together and there was no problem until conflict arose," he said. 

If Russia is banned from SWIFT, as urged by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, it would have a direct impact on him. This is because he sends money through the global interbank payments system to his parents, who are in their 70s and immobile, he said, adding that he is supporting them on his own. 

Another Russian in her 40s and has been living in Singapore for four years similarly said she did not want to be identified for this interview as she did not want to take a stand. 

"We do have friends that are Ukrainians too. It generally feels horrible," she said. 

"Our perspective is that it’s a war and in a war, there is no right and wrong side. All sides are wrong and there is only sadness."

On Friday night, Mr Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Russian leader was "ready" to send a high-level delegation "for talks with a Ukrainian delegation" to Minsk, the host city for previous peace talks and agreements.

Those who spoke to CNA said they hope there's a resolution soon. 

"What they need to do is negotiation, definitely, because we need to stop this military operation and negotiate. It's always the best to negotiate," said Mr Kuznetsov. 

Source: CNA/ja(gr)
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