Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty

KHARKIV, Ukraine—Night had fallen in this city less than 20 miles from the Russian border, and a crowd gathered around the offices of the State Security Service. From out of the dark a tall, muscled-up, militant young man stepped forward to speak. 

“We have stopped Russian forces advancing on our land, we’ll stop the treason: no to capitulation in this war,” 22-year-old Georgy Tarasenko proclaimed that night of October 2: a message and a motto that has resonated throughout the country. Recent days have seen thousands of people in the streets of the capital, Kyiv. “No capitulation!” they shout.

The sentiment is genuine and deep, but so is the desire for peace in a country that has fought for more than five years against a Russian-backed separatist movement at a cost of more than 13,000 lives.

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