July 20, 2024

Despite Kremlin’s Calls for National Unity, War Is Dividing Russians

MOSCOW — For most Russians, their country’s two-year war with Ukraine has long faded into the background of everyday life.

“The average Russian is just waiting for this to end,” was how one Moscow resident described prevailing sentiments about the war.

“The idea of ‘let me live my life and leave me alone’ resonates with many people who chose to stay in the country and are simply waiting things out,” he told The Moscow Times, requesting anonymity to speak candidly.

While many people now avoid talking about the war altogether, for those whom it has directly impacted, such as the families of mobilized soldiers, attempts by some to block out the conflict have led to resentment and deepened societal divisions.

And despite the detrimental impacts Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has had on Russia — from the thousands of soldiers killed and wounded on the battlefield to an economy battered by Western sanctions — public opinion surveys suggest that most Russians still support what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation.”

Fatigue and apathy

Today, only 54% of Russians say they closely follow the news about the war in Ukraine, according to the independent pollster Levada Center.

“People avoid raising topics [related to the war] — they have learned how to avoid conservations about these issues because they know that it will only lead to arguing,” said sociologist Denis Volkov, who heads Levada Center.

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