Locals seemed to have consensus on who’s at war: the U.S. and Russia over control of Ukraine, they all agreed. But even now, three months past the day the first shell fell on Slovyansk, they still had trouble comprehending why their green, sleepy hometown still was trapped in this conflict.
Residents of the bombed building remembered how in April, local and Russian-assigned rebel commanders chose to set up the capital for their forces in this town.
The people of the Donbass, the country’s gritty industrial region in the east, were not naive. They realized that gas pipelines crossing the border with Russia and the shale gas fields near Slovyansk — with a potential reserve of about 3 trillion cubic meters of gas — were the cause of constant tension between Russia and Ukraine.
But with pipes in their backyards or running right next to their homes, with their feet firmly on ground that stands over a vast shale deposit, they knew the struggle was not really over Ukraine itself. They were in the middle of a war about energy.