REPORTAGE. War in Ukraine: In Moscow, little has changed in appearance

REPORTAGE.  War in Ukraine: In Moscow, little has changed in appearance

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While in Ukraine, the Russian troops are losing ground, in Moscow, the inhabitants do not seem to suffer from the consequences of the war launched by their country.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine. The sanctions continue to rain down on Russia, condemned by Europe: departure of companies, embargo on raw materials, suspended Swift banking system, restrictions on the issuance of visas…

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Yet in Russia, except the atmosphere, little has changed. Since September, showers have wet the streets of Moscow and the cold bites passers-by. The few colorful umbrellas revive the greyish picture of the capital, but the hearts of Muscovites are very sad. “It’s the depression”, blows Alexandra, smoking under a shelter. “The atmosphere has been very heavy since February. Many of my friends who work in foreign brands have lost their jobs.”

Nearly 300 Western brands slammed the door on Russia in March, to show their condemnation of Putin’s “special military operation”. Some were taken over under new names, Mc Donald became “Vkusno i Tochka”. Others leave empty display cases behind them, which look like ghosts from a bygone era, before the war.

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“We’ll find a way to dress”

But in Moscow, few are concerned about these departures. It is the young people, accustomed to Western signs and technology, who have felt these sanctions the most. “Since the closure of Nike, we no longer know where to dress! Prices have more than doubled, it is very hard to buy quality now”, complains a group of students, at the exit of KFC. “Even for metro tickets, the price increase is felt…”

Nevertheless, most adults, not very fond of these brands, do not notice so many changes. “We will find a way to dress and eat. In addition, it allows national brands to develop, which I fully support”, explains Maxime, music teacher, who is looking for suits in a last H&M. open. “Everything is going great in Moscow for me!” Similarly, the visa restriction has had little effect on the majority of Russians, who already could not afford such trips to Europe.

Visually, little has changed, yet the climate is heavy. “We are at war. And war is always terrible and senseless”, judges this thirty-year-old. “But I support our government, because anyway, I don’t understand anything in politics. I’m a musician, it’s far too complex for me.” His point of view is shared by the majority of Muscovites.

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Most reject war, but few oppose it

Indeed, most disapprove of war, but few oppose it, either out of fear or defeatism. “In St. Petersburg, I took part in the demonstrations, but here, in the capital, the repression is far too strong. I don’t want to end up in prison or be kicked out of university. My studies are too precious for me”, confides Ksenia, student in the faculty of chemistry. Others fear that the situation will get worse if power falls.

It is the older people who mostly support the war, especially those living in the Russian provinces. “We in Crimea fully support Putin, he helped us in 2014 to join Russia, we wish the same thing to Donbass”, assures Aksanna, forty-year-old mother of three children, who came on vacation to Moscow.

For older people, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. “When my homeland is at war, I support my homeland, period,” proudly asserts Natacha, a 60-year-old retiree on the outskirts of Moscow in her dacha, lulled by the television on continuously. “I managed to convince my whole village to support our president. Thanks to him, Russian soil is preserved from war in the future.” A very uncertain future for the millions of Muscovites, but which everyone hopes for a better one.

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