One afternoon in late February, Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city, pushed his wheelchair away from the podium at city hall and, with a wince of discomfort, allowed his bodyguards to help him off the stage. The day’s session of the city council had lasted several hours, and the mayor’s pain medication had begun to wear off. It was clear from the grimace on his face how much he still hurt from the sniper’s bullet that nearly killed him last spring. But he collected himself, adjusted his tie and rolled down the aisle to the back of the hall, where the press was waiting to grill him.
“Gennady Adolfovich,” one of the local journalists began, politely addressing the mayor by his name and patronymic. “Do you consider Russia to be an aggressor?” He had seen this loaded question coming. The previous month, Ukraine’s parliament had unanimously voted to declare Russia an “aggressor sta...
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