Anna Maklakova, 22, did not dismiss the idea that a war was possible. For much of her life, since she was 14, there has been a smoldering conflict against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Harder to fathom for her were the dire predictions from many in the West that a new war could be unlike anything the world had seen since 1945, that a bombardment of Kyiv could kill tens of thousands of people and lay waste to what is in every respect a modern western city of 2.8 million people.
“I mean come on, it is the 21st century,” she said. “How could there be such a thing?”
Khrystyna Batiuk, 47, was visiting her daughter, Marta Bursuk, in Kyiv when she heard Mr. Putin speak and in an instant, she said, it was clear to her that her daughter’s 1-year-old baby boy, Oleksandr, needed to leave town.
“That person,” she said, referring to Mr. Putin, “is a mentally ill person for whom it is unclear what to expect.”
“Anyone who tries to interfere with us, or even more so, to create threats for our country and our people, must know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history,” Mr. Putin said. “We are ready for any turn of events.”