“By all indications” Russia has prepared for an attack on Ukraine, Biden says; Russia orders US diplomat to leave National

In the trenches covered with snow and soot, men are looking for enough cell phone signal to hear the last of the distant capitals that will decide their fate.

These Ukrainians are far from Russian ships heading for naval exercises off the coast of Ireland, from American fighter jets moving to the Baltics, and from an American aircraft carrier that is steadily sailing the Mediterranean.

When weapons supplied by the West landed near a plane in Kyiv, soldiers and civilians waited here with helpless anticipation decisions made by people who know little about the lives of those on the eastern front line – a battle-weary region near which Russia has rallied tens of thousands of soldiers in building up troops that U.S. President Joe Biden said could intensify the largest invasion since World War II.

Soldiers in Golden have been defending themselves against Russian attacks for 4 years. They are just a few hundred meters from pro-Russian separatists who are on the other side of the checkpoint that no one can safely cross. The soldiers believe that this is where the snipers are, although they have never seen armed men.

After three days without firing “suddenly they opened with grenade launchers and firearms. One mortar shell flew and fell into the field behind us. Two more fell between our and the next position. 15 minutes later everything was quiet again. Why? For what? No one knows. And that’s how it is here, “said Oleg Surkhov, a Ukrainian serviceman who fled Crimea in 2014 after the Russians captured the peninsula. He got into a fight shortly after evacuating his wife, children and grandchildren to western Ukraine.

Golden Numbers 1-5 got their names a few decades ago in Soviet times – the name means “Golden” – when they were designated as units of local coal production. Now 1 to 4 are in Ukraine, and 5 are less than a kilometer (half a mile) through the checkpoint.

The feeling of waiting for someone else’s decisions infected the neighboring village of Katsyarynauka, where the scars of the eight-year shelling remained. It has the latest trenches, which are heated by coarse firewood, the heat of which attracts almost as many dogs and cats as soldiers. The happiest trench cats are taken back by soldiers when they turn away from the front.

“We joke that hope is the last thing that dies. We are all waiting for peace. Neither children nor grandchildren can come to us, ”said Lyubov, a local resident, who did not give her last name. “We are talking on the phone, and that is enough. Let’s wait for peace to come! ”

If war comes instead, it is just as likely not to strike the first blow to eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have controlled since 2014. In Russia, more than 100,000 troops are gathering across the border, and thousands more are gathering in position for, according to Russia, military exercises on Ukraine’s border in the north with Belarus.

Moscow denies planning an assault, but the United States and its NATO allies are preparing for a possible war, strengthening its presence in the Baltic states and bringing 8,500 U.S. troops into heightened readiness for potential deployment in Europe. The United Kingdom and the United States have sent several weapons to Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials accepted the aid but found themselves on the sidelines of several rounds of high-stakes diplomacy which have not yet given a breakthrough. “Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken earlier this month after one such meeting.

On Monday, the White House called on European leaders, including NATO’s secretary general, for a video conference on Ukraine to discuss U.S. ideas on how to respond to Russia’s demands.

“We have shared these ideas with our European allies and partners. We accept their feedback. We include this feedback in the written response, “said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“We want to remind the big powers that there are no small invasions and small nations. Just as there are no small victims and little grief from the loss of loved ones, ”President Uladzimir Zielenski wrote.

In the Merry, separatist district in the east of the Donetsk region, little has changed since the 2014 fighting. Signs still warn of minefields. Concrete-block buildings over the years of shelling only collapsed, and no one came to tow cars hastily abandoned under fire.

“There is practically no one here, because everything is broken. There is light, gas and running water, but no life, ”said a local resident Uladzimir, who declined to give his last name. He estimated that the Ukrainian troops were about a kilometer (half a mile) and wanted them to leave so that people could decide their own destiny.

“If they completely left and liberated” the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, then we could decide. I think no one wants to be a part of Ukraine here, ”he said.

Hinnant reported from Paris. “By all indications” Russia has prepared for an attack on Ukraine, Biden says; Russia orders US diplomat to leave National

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