Vladimir Putin’s War



Artur Smolin has never lived in Russia. He was born in Ukraine in 1994, three years after the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union. He grew up in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk, roots for a Ukrainian soccer team and works in a Ukrainian factory producing machines for Ukrainian coal mines. But in early May, he took a bullet for Russia. Why? «Because I’m Russian,» he says, alluding to his ancestry, which runs deep across the border.

Last month, when Ukrainian soldiers came to put down a pro-Russian rebellion in Smolin’s hometown, his mother Irina was among the first civilians who tried to block the troops by surrounding them. «If I had a gun, I would shoot them myself,» she says. Instead she called her son and his friends to join the standoff, which lasted for nearly 12 hours under a heavy spring rain. The situation escalated…

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