Residents of Odessa and Nikolaev, Ukrainian cities under the newly-imposed martial law, spoke about their expectations and fears on Wednesday.
Answering a question on whether or not he would go and serve in the army, one Nikolaev resident said that he is prepared to “run away from here.” Another man also said he “would like to leave, but of course not to fight.” The identities of the two men have been concealed for fear of potential harassment and persecution by the authorities.
One Odessa resident also commented on rumours spreading among the locals, “today on social media there is information from people saying that somebody visited someone else and asked them to go somewhere or they take people there.”
“People are generally anxious. People are bracing themselves. It's left a bad taste of uncertainty and anxiety,” a local from Nikolaev said.
Others expressed hope for peace: “Everything worries me – I want peace will prevail on our planet, children, grand-children, great-grand-children to grow up normally and not worry that there will be a war,” an elderly Odessa resident said.
Martial law was introduced in Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Zaporozhie, Lugansk, Donetsk, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov and Vinnitsk regions, as wells as the territorial waters of the Kerch Strait. Martial law started on November 28 and is to last for the next 30 days.
The move came after Sunday's incident in the Kerch Strait, when Russia's Coast Guard detained three Ukrainian vessels after they breached Russia's territorial waters.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, their vessels had the right to pass freely through the Kerch Strait under international law.
However, the FSB stated that Ukrainian vessels breached territorial waters that belonged to the Russian Federation before the Crimean referendum, and therefore did not have such a right without first applying for a pass.
In a statement, the FSB also accuses Kiev on organising a 'provocation' in the Kerch Strait, which was coordinated by two Security Service of Ukraine members on board of the vessels.
Kiev denies all accusations with the Command of the Naval Forces of Ukraine putting the blame on the Russian side for "its aggressive actions."