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Funerals and wine bars: Kyiv’s return to normalcy isn’t normal at all

And yet, some shops and cafes have reopened. Central Khreshchatyk Street, Kyiv’s main artery, hums with traffic. And after several dry weeks, bars are now serving alcohol to war-weary customers. “We will drink to relax and we will to his death,” a wine shop employee serving a line of six people said about Putin, making a lewd gesture with her thumb and index finger.

Over the past week, 32 diplomatic missions have returned to work in the capital, according to the Ukrainian National Guard commander overseeing their protection. The U.S. Embassy is not yet one of them, but its charge d’affaires said Monday on her first visit to the country since the Russian invasion began that the mission could reopen by the end of May, if security conditions allow.

“We listen to the security professionals, and when they tell us we can go back we will go back,” Kristina Kvien told reporters in Lviv.

Despite the renewed activity in the city, the war is never far away. On central Independence Square on Tuesday afternoon, a crowd gathered to plead for international help to evacuate the hundreds of Ukrainian troops still holding onto the last bastion of Ukrainian-controlled territory in southeastern Mariupol, the Azovstal iron and steel factory.

There, Ukrainian troops from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade and the Azov Regiment, a unit of the country’s National Guard, have fought tooth and nail to keep Russian forces from taking the plant and killing the hundreds of civilians hunkered down inside its maze of tunnels and bunkers. The rest of Mariupol is in ruins.

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