A calm defiance held in Kyiv on Tuesday, a day after Russia recognised the independence of the breakaway east Ukrainian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Daily life continued as normal, while the country’s leaders focused on maintaining calm — but also preparation — in the face of a rising risk of further Russian attack.
A meeting of Ukraine’s security council continued late into the night on Monday, with brief statements by President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he said that Russia’s actions amounted to a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But he struck a cool tone.
“We are committed to a peaceful and diplomatic path, and we will follow it,” Zelensky said. “We are not afraid of anything or anyone.”
On Tuesday, Zelensky said he was considering next steps, such as breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia. He also spoke of preparations, saying that if a further assault was to take place, martial law could be introduced.
Ukrainians, too, steeled themselves for a possible conflict, canvassing for donations for military charities online and asking just how far into Ukraine Moscow planned to deploy its troops.
Still, Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders urged calm. “We do not believe that there will be an intense war against Ukraine, and that Russia will escalate further,” the president said on Tuesday, adding that his government would do its utmost to prevent that from happening.
“I am grateful to Ukrainians for keeping their cool and calm in spite of internal anxiety. Panic in Ukraine is only needed by the aggressor state,” Oleksandr Tkachenko, culture minister and a longtime Zelensky ally, wrote on social media.