Russians can live through one of the worst winters, in a country where the months come from December to February with arctic winds that drop temperatures below freezing.
While the mercury drops to -7°C in Moscow, it can reach -60°C during the Siberian nights.
After nine months of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s initial belief that the army could capture the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in just two days is over.
With no end in sight to Putin’s military coup, Russia is about to enter its toughest three months, with fears that it could be bad news for those on the front line and for people back home.
Hopeless: Morale in Russia is collapsing
With no final date in sight, the uncertainty about the ongoing war took a toll on morale among the Russian citizens.
Speaking to CNN, a 34-year-old film producer described the mood in the Russian capital as “very bleak, quiet, scared and desperate”.
“The planning horizon is as low as ever. People have no idea what might happen tomorrow or in a year,” she said.
And the Levada Center also showed, through research by an independent Moscow-based pollster, the moral ramifications of the war for ordinary Russians.
When asked if “people like them” are responsible for “civilian deaths and destruction in Ukraine,” about a third of respondents answered “yes.” This represents an 8 percentage point increase in positive responses between April and May.
“Disappearing Familiar Goods”
Since the beginning of the war, Western countries and their allies have attacked Russia’s domestic economy by implementing imports, exports, and sanctions.
Early in the war, Russian banks were banned from the SWIFT system which separated the organization from the international financial network. This effect sent the Russian ruble into a downward spiral and saw Russians rush to ATMs in droves to withdraw cash.
The trend, however, continued. According to Reuters, September saw Russians looking to flee the country withdraw 458 billion rubles (AU$11.1 billion) from banks after Putin announced a partial mobilization of forces.
Since then, dozens of brands have announced the cessation of their Russian operations.
Then a large number of brands stopped operations in Russia, including such brands as McDonald’s, confectionery company Mars, Sony and Lego.
Lisa told CNN that Western sanctions mean that everyday Western goods such as Coca-Cola and clothing brands have either disappeared from stores, or their prices have skyrocketed.
“Familiar goods are disappearing, from toilet paper and Coca-Cola to clothes,” Lisa said. “I don’t really know how this helps resolve the conflict, because it affects ordinary people, not those who make the decisions.”
Russian forces are also suffering
A report from Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russian soldiers fighting Putin’s war in Ukraine would also suffer. As temperatures drop to zero, bone-chilling rain can turn roads to slush, before snow sets on the ground.
Daylight also becomes a diminishing good, fading from 16 hours in the summer to only eight hours in the winter.
Winter will bring a change in the conditions of the conflict for both the Russian and Ukrainian forces. The ministry said changes in daylight hours, temperature and weather would present unique challenges for combat soldiers.
“The weather itself is likely to see an increase in precipitation, wind speed and snowfall. Each of these will provide additional challenges to the already low morale of the Russian forces, but will also pose problems for equipment maintenance.”
The season can also present tactical flaws.
“In addition, the ‘golden hour’ window during which a critically wounded soldier is rescued has shrunk by nearly half, making the risk of enemy contact much greater,” they wrote on Twitter.
The ability to see at night is a valuable commodity, which further exacerbates the unwillingness to fight at night.
Heavy battlefield casualties and the mobilization of 300,000 inexperienced recruits in October deteriorated the army’s fighting strength and morale.
In a November report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the think tank said desertion was also a concern for Russian soldiers.
“The moral and psychological state of the Russian forces in Luhansk and Donetsk provinces is very low,” says the ISW.
“High casualties on the battlefield, mobilization to the front lines without proper training, and lack of supplies led to desertions.”
Originally published as Low morale crushes Russian army and people, as the country faces its harshest winter