Once joined in Soviet Union, Ukraine, Russia never further apart

Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:38am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elizabeth Piper

KIEV (Reuters) - Over a table piled high with food and wine, a newly married husband and wife watched warily as the toasts began.

Despite asking everyone to steer clear of politics, bringing together relatives from Russia and Ukraine a day after Kiev accused Moscow of arming rebels to bring down an airliner was never going to be easy.

The father of the groom, who hails from Russia, raised his glass: "Our country is now going through difficult times. They are trying to divide us. But we are Russians, Belarussians ... We are one people!"

"Glory to Ukraine!" returned the bride's Ukrainian grandmother loudly, a wedding guest told Reuters.

The rest of the wedding party hissed "Shush!", desperate to head off any ill-feeling, a tall order for any event involving two peoples once joined in the Soviet Union but now more divided than ever.

Even the most mild-mannered Ukrainians, known for their long-suffering tolerance born of a history of occupation and conflict, have turned on, if not all their neighbors in Russia, one in particular: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Putin should understand that it's enough already. This is not a conflict between Ukraine and Russia. It is an international conflict," Ukraine's usually quietly spoken prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, told a news conference.

"Russia is on the dark side, on the side of the devil."   Continued...

Flowers and a message left by local residents for victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are pictured outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev in this July 19, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Files