SLOVYANSK, Ukraine ? A hot July day, and the neighbors and children of a half-ruined five-story building on Bulvarnaya Avenue gathered around a bench for a long discussion of their daily fears.
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.