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ON THE UKRAINE-RUSSIA BORDER — Of all the Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine who yearn for the motherland, Andrei Mikhailev has the shortest of paths to reunification. The burly pig farmer only needs to step outside his front gate.
There, a narrow strip of sludge bisected by a barbed wire fence marks the frontier where Ukrainian mud slides into Russian mire. For generations, farmers roamed this border as freely as the terrain allowed. Now, with Ukraine and Russia bogged down in a Cold War-style standoff, wary border guards in waders patrol both sides.
Mikhailev, 32, is a good person to study for anyone looking to understand why Russians in eastern Ukraine do not share their western countrymen’s desire for closer ties to the European Union.