As Russia mobilises untrained civilians to prop up the war in Ukraine, a Singaporean living in Moscow ponders its futility and the growing dissonance of being in a country stuck between peace and conflict.
I struggle to put into words exactly how I am feeling, to express precisely the thoughts that are running through my head, like unstoppable runners going on until their legs atrophy from the very thing they are cursed to do for the rest of their lives. We are running, back and forth, not knowing what lies ahead. There is a thought in my mind, and then it disappears. I forget about, for a moment, this war, and all that it means.
“There is no war ongoing between Russia and Ukraine, but the special military operation is evolving successfully.” Such was the response by the Russian Embassy in Singapore to an interview by The Straits Times of Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs.
This coincided with an estimate of as many as 25,000 military deaths since Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, moved to “denazify” and “demilitarise” Ukraine on February 24th, this year. The official death toll from the Russian Defence Ministry stands at 5,937. Despite these casualties, Russia’s occupation of approximately 20 percent of Ukraine, and the recent decision for “partial” mobilisation, one cannot call it a “war”. Instead, according to the Kremlin, it is a “special military operation”. Calling it otherwise risks one being fined up to 1.5m rubles (S$36,000) and a prison sentence of up to 15 years for spreading “fake news”.
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