We all know how Ukrainians have been affected at home by the Russian invasion. Over the course of more than a year, many Ukrainians, especially those in the east of the country, have been forced to flee their homes. Some have taken up arms to defend their homeland. Other are taking in refugees. Many more are experiencing their loved ones’ extended time away from home as they deploy to the front lines.
Russia and average Russians, for the most part, don’t really feel the effect of the extended war, at least not from the points of view of Russian news channels and social media. But their chickens are coming home to roost. One of the trending hashtags on Twitter for the past week has been #RussiaIsCollapsing, detailing the stories major news media has seemed to miss.
Here are just a few of the biggest ways Russians are finally starting to feel the effects of their prolonged war on Ukraine.
1. Bombings at home
In the summer of 2022, a car bomb near Moscow killed the daughter of a high-level Russian oligarch, one so close to Vladimir Putin, that he was deemed a “spiritual advisor” to the Russian president. No one knows for sure if that bomb was meant for the man or his daughter, but anti-Russian bombers have struck again, this time in Saint Petersburg.
An explosion in a Saint Petersburg cafe killed the pro-war, pro-Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who was attending an event hosted by the pro-war Telegram channel “Cyber Front Z.” Tatarsky, whose real name is Maxim Fomin, not only had his own Telegram (with around 500,000 followers), he was also the author of several books, and was a veteran of the Donbas front in Ukraine.
2. Soldiers are not being paid
Russian news outlet Vyorstka reports that as of March 2023, salaries of service members and conscripts from 52 regions of Russia were not paid neither money nor social benefits of service. Those who were paid received much smaller amounts. On the Russian social media network Vkontakte, families were found complaining about the shortfalls of Russian military pay.
The Russian ministry of Defense says the shortfalls are actually delays in pay due to transfers to different units. Some say they did receive more compensation later in the month, but others are posting their paystubs, which read 0.00. It’s a bad look when you can’t even pay the troops you’re using. No wonder there are so many reports of Russian soldiers refusing to follow orders.
3. Mysterious fires across Russia
Almost from the moment Russian troops crossed the borders into Ukraine, mysterious fires have been set all across Russia, from the Ukrainian border in the West, all the way to Amursk in Eastern Siberia. Many of these have been arson attacks on recruiting stations. Others have been strategically important areas, such as military bases and railroad tracks.
Ukraine has not acknowledged the fires at strategic locations were sabotage efforts, but other targets have included St. Petersburg warehouses and pipelines, as well as apartment buildings, art museums, and other civilian areas of Moscow. Even the Russian aircraft carrier Kutuzov suffered a mysterious fire.
4. Bug-Out Bags
Military personnel are familiar with this, but civilians may not be, especially in Russia. In the Russian capital, public service announcements have started to appear that instruct civilians on how to properly pack a “bug-out” bag, a piece of luggage containing things necessary for short-term survival.