Six months on, Russians divided on Ukraine conflict


Romanenko, sporting a thick beard and with his arms and neck covered in tattoos, said the start of the military campaign marked the end of his livelihood in Russia.

“It destroyed everything I was doing, all my business. I was in start-ups and all of my eight projects were destroyed,” he said.

Walking nearby in a colourful patterned dress and white hat, 83-year-old retired art critic Valentina Byalik said it was clear that “everything has changed”.

“We are part of a generation whose childhood was spent at war. And it’s very sad that our old age is also spent at war,” she said.

“Even if we live far away from the military operations, we feel profound sadness for the people who are dying, no matter what their nationality.”

Byalik said the growing isolation of Russians was especially difficult.

“The fact that a great country is now isolated, that everyone hates this country … this is very bitter for us,” she said.

Dmitry Nalivayko, a 34-year-old waiter with a ribbon in the colours of the Russian flag attached to his backpack, said it was “wrong” for ordinary people to be caught up in the conflict.

“Let the politicians fight, not the people who are suffering from all this. Everyone is suffering,” he said.

Other Russians are ready to fiercely support the military campaign.

Many of them turned up for a recent army forum on the outskirts of the capital where the country’s latest military hardware was being shown off.

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