The Russian Military Might be Ready for War, but are the People?


Russians are still spending their lengthy winter holidays in the heart of Moscow, directly beneath the Kremlin’s gates.

The cobblestoned width of Red Square has been converted into a festive celebration teeming with revelers.

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The Population Doesn’t Want a War

A skating rink and fairground rides are available. The audience is crisscrossed by lines for gluhwein and sweet donuts.

Reminiscent Soviet music blares over the ride’s loudspeakers while small children swirl in multicolored teacups, alluding to a past those kids will never get to see.

Far Away Russian authorities are meeting with US and NATO leaders this week for tense, high-profile discussions.

Moscow wants assurances and the West questions Russia’s military deployment along the Ukrainian border. However, the danger of war appears remote and improbable in Red Square.

“Enjoy your milkshake and embrace one another,” says the narrator. I said, “cuddle each other!”

Kristina Kostova, 38, yells as she tries to shoot an Instagram-worthy shot of her 8-year-old child and 6-year-old child, who had lost the top to her smoothie.

“Who in their right mind wants a war?”

When questioned about her views on Ukraine, Kostova said, “Ukrainians are our closest friends. Our political disagreements may have an impact on us, but we don’t want to get involved in this war.”

Mikhail, her husband, interjected, “there will not be a war,” and then continued, fatalistically, “but if there is, it’s out of our control anyhow.”

On the last Saturday of the New Year period, reporters went to Red Square to see how equipped ordinary Russians were for yet another war in Ukraine.

For weeks, President Vladimir Putin has been mobilizing soldiers and laying the groundwork for conflict on Russian state media.

State-sponsored political discussion programs caution that Ukraine is becoming more militaristic, driven on by the Westerners and Russo-phobia amongst some Ukrainians.

Ukraine is Fighting Back

Ukrainians ripping down Soviet statues have been seen on Russian television. It’s part of a new trend of statue desecration in Ukraine.

This summer, citizens of Lviv, in western Ukraine, desecrated a monument commemorating the Soviet Army’s defeat over Nazi Germany, a triumph revered in Russia.

In one program, TV anchors said, “Everything that is somehow related with the Soviet era in Russia is susceptible to either public humiliation or annihilation in Ukraine.”

Then, on the night of Russia’s biggest vacation of the year, Putin released a series of requests that the West mistook for an ultimatum.

If Putin carries through on his warnings, it will be the Russian military’s third major commitment in Ukraine (though the operations have not always been confirmed by the Kremlin).

The first came in February 2014, when Putin dispatched forces to capture Crimea, a picturesque peninsula known for its hot, rocky shores and summer programs by most Russians.

Later that year, ethnic Russian rebels in the coal-mining area of Donbas took control.

They declared separate nations in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, sparking the second major outbreak of warfare.

With Russia’s help, Russian-backed insurgents drove Ukrainian soldiers out.