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Life appears normal in Moscow… but a sinister undercurrent exists as Putin’s war drags on | Dominic Waghorn

Moscow is stunning in autumn. The parks are a riotous display of seasonal colours, set under deep blue skies. Last glorious moment before winter closes in. But there’s rising tension and fear.

You would not know that this is the capital city of a country in war, despite billboards praising heroes from Russia’s “special Military Operation”.

The world goes on. There is a sinister undercurrent beneath all the normalcy. It is becoming more difficult to find people, particularly those of fighting age. Many thousands of Russians fled the country.

The latest Ukraine news: Putin’s forces are ‘preparing to blow up major dams and flood thousands’


Many of those left behind fear that Moscow’s many cameras will capture them and use facial recognition technology to pick them up. Vladimir Putin’s mobilization has taken care of men in wheelchairs and the elderly. Even the dead have been issued call up papers. There is no one safe.

Muscovites are afraid of the knock at the door that will take their husband, father, or son away to training camps for wars they don’t understand.

They know this isn’t going well. Their president would not need to have hundreds of thousands more soldiers.

Read more about Russia

Putin marketed his military operation as something far-fetched and distant, fought by contractors and professional soldiers. Those who believed that he received another jolt this past week were deluded.

Image Vladimir Putin presides a Security Council meeting held on 19 October Pic: AP

Putin declared martial law, something that no Russian president has done since the Second World War. He declared martial law in land he had stolen from Ukraine, but also authorized a creeping “martial laws lite” throughout Russia.

He gave the Russian authorities power to regulate movement, assembly, transport and even the authority for resettlement. To give the government greater control, laws that were intended for war use have been rewritten.

Russians get tired of being asked why they do it. Protests have been brutally crushed. People are routinely stopped by police on the streets in order to search their phones for seditious material. Russia imports surveillance technology from China, which may make dissent obsolete and even revolutionary.

Image Mobile launcher equipped with Topol-M missile and a Topol-1 rocket during a military parade held in Moscow in May

It can only get worse, the Muscovites are sure. This war has also had a devastating economic impact on the economy and put a halt to society by the government. Although the Russians have escaped sanctions more successfully than western policymakers expected, they are still suffering. There are many shortages and prices are on the rise. Inflation and rationing are real threats.

Continue reading:

Eyewitness – ‘It doesn’t stop’ Soldiers fighting Russia under the trees

Putin’s marshal law call makes him seem strong at home, but his charade is crumbling. – analysis

People who are old enough recall the seventies and worry about the return of those times. In Soviet times, there was at most one ideology. Now, there’s just one tsar and his bizarre fantasies about a larger Russia and the greedy ambitions of the corrupt old men who surround him.

Because it is not clear what the goal of war is, there is no end in sight. Russia’s original war goals were unsuccessful. Putin has replaced them with another objective. Or will this continue indefinitely, as Russia sinks into an economic winter of repression?


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