Conflicts & War

Russians take stock of 2022 with uncertainty over war in Ukraine

Moscow, Dec 31 (EFE).- “It has been the worst year of my life. Things are so bad that I don’t see how we could get out of it,” Alexandr, a 71-year-old Russian sculptor tells Efe.

Like many of his compatriots, he is taking stock of 2022 and looking ahead to the coming year with uncertainty amid the war in Ukraine that seems to have no end in sight.

“It has been a year of shocks, of terrible disappointments. I worry about the future of young people,” he adds, stressing his rejection of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” against its neighbor.

For most Russians, 2022 has been one of the toughest years in recent times, both because of the moral and psychological pressure of the Ukrainian conflict and the economic consequences of the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West.

According to a survey by Levada, Russia’s leading independent sociological center, 53% of Russians assessed the past year as “more difficult for their family” than in the previous one.

Some 76 % of the survey participants said 2022 was “more difficult for the country”, up dramatically compared to 2021, when only 55 % of respondents agreed.

For Svetlana, editor of a Russian portal, “this is the third difficult year in a row,” a bad streak that linked two years of pandemic with the Ukrainian conflict to bring pain and death.

Alexandr confesses that he has been “born with an animal hatred” towards those responsible for the Ukrainian conflict, and expressed the certainty that they “will have to pay for all this somehow.”

“I hope we won’t have any more years like this one, it was horrible and we are going to say goodbye to it with pleasure”, Boris, a Russian businessman in the construction sector, assures EFE.

Unlike Alexandr, he believes the Kremlin’s line that Russia “was forced” to start this war due to the international situation created by the West and Nato, but he still recognizes that it has been “a year of losses, emotional and psychological, related to the war, where Slavs kill Slavs”.

“I have partly Ukrainian blood, my great-great-grandfather once ran a ‘kolkhoz’ (Soviet agricultural cooperative) in Ukraine,” he says, stressing that he has visited on several occasions that “wonderful country, which was plundered for decades by its politicians.”

He says that in the midst of the avalanche of news coming from both sides about the fighting, what affects him most is “the loss of security caused by the fact that the Slavs are beating each other up in this little internecine war”.

However, his business has improved compared to previous years despite all the difficulties, something that “compensates a little” for the situation.

Svetlana is convinced that in such circumstances it is best “to spend these holidays as a family, to feel the strength of family ties” and escaping the “agitation” and “disunity” of the “outside world”.

For Russians, New Year’s is traditionally a family holiday whose indispensable attributes are, on the one hand, the Christmas tree and, on the other, a large dinner table to gather around.

While the streets are decorated with tall Christmas trees, crystal balls, all kinds of ornaments and lights, as usual, many people are expected to stay home for New Year’s Eve 2022.

According to the National Center for Public Opinion Studies (Vciom), 80% of Russians will bid farewell to 2022 at home, just 3% will go to their holiday homes and another 6% will visit friends.

“The global events have affected us all, but in my opinion, mainly on the psychological level,” says Svetlana, who predicts that 2023 will bring “a catharsis, as everyone in one way or another longs for it.”

She hopes “that people all over the world will finally listen to each other once and for all, show understanding and flexibility, that peace will come to everyone and to everyone’s souls”.

Alexandr, for his part, is “hopeful that something positive will happen in the New Year, at least for me.”

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