In Moscow, the war with Ukraine is background noise, but ever-present

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MOSCOW – Metro trains are running smoothly in Moscow, as usual, but getting around the city centre by car has become more complicated, and annoying, because anti-drone radar interferes with navigation apps.

There are well-off Muscovites ready to buy Western luxury cars, but there are not enough available. And while a local election for mayor took place as it normally would this month, many of the city’s residents decided not to vote, with the result seemingly predetermined (a landslide win by the incumbent).

Almost 19 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Muscovites are experiencing dual realities: The war has faded into background noise, causing few major disruptions, and yet it remains ever-present in their daily lives.

This month, Moscow is aflutter in red, white and blue flags for the annual celebration of the Russian capital’s birthday, No. 876. Its leaders marked the occasion with a month-long exhibition that ended Sept 10.

Featuring the country’s largest hologram, it showcased the city of 13 million people as a smoothly operating metropolis with a bright future. More than 7 million people visited, according to the organisers.

There is little anxiety among residents over the drone strikes that have hit Moscow this summer, no alarm sirens to warn of a possible attack.

When flights are delayed because of drone threats in the area, the explanation is usually the same as the one plastered on signs at the shuttered luxury boutiques of Western designers: “technical reasons.”

The city continues to grow. Cranes dot the skyline, and there are high-rise buildings going up all over town. New brands, some homegrown, have replaced the flagship stores including Zara and H&M, which departed after the invasion began in February 2022.

“We continue to work, to live and to raise our children,” said Ms Anna, 41, as she walked by a sidewalk memorial marking the death of Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. She said she worked in a government ministry, and like others interviewed, she did not give her last name because of a fear of retribution.

But for some, the effects of war are landing harder.

Ms Nina, 79, a pensioner who was shopping at an Auchan supermarket in north-western Moscow, said that she had stopped buying red meat entirely and that she could almost never afford to buy a whole fish.

“Just right now, in September, the prices rose tremendously,” she said.

Ms Nina said that sanctions and ubiquitous construction projects were some reasons for higher prices, but the main reason, she said, was “because a lot is spent on war.”

“Why did they start it at all?” Ms Nina added. “Such a burden on the country, on people, on everything. And people are disappearing – especially men.”

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]

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