3 Months Into War, Russian Malls Become ‘Silent Hill’ Backdrop as Russians Continue to Flee

Russian President, Vladimir Putin

On 24 February, Vladimir Putin shocked the world as he made a war declaration against Ukraine.

As of today, 3,930 Ukrainians have become casualties of the conflict, and 257 of them were children.

From this conflict, the rest of the world saw how power-hungry President Putin really is and decided to take action.

A few days after the declaration, western countries and corporations unleashed an unprecedented attack, causing destruction in Russia’s economy.

Empty Dior boutique in TSUM

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Apple, H&M, Disney and Starbucks are some of the corporations that chose to stand with Ukrainians.

These large companies either paused their production or completely pulled their investment out of Russia’s market.

However, was Russia punished enough for the sins of its president?

Today, Moscow’s massive shopping malls have become ghostly fields of closed stores that were formerly filled by Western merchants.

Inside Russian Mall (source: alamy)

As a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, McDonald’s, which first opened in Russia in 1990 and quickly became a cultural icon, left the country for good.

KFC’s owner, Yum! Brands has agreed to close 70 restaurants that it owns and is close to reaching a deal to shut down all 50 Pizza Huts.

Despite massive investments in Russia, major industrial firms such as BP and Shell, as well as car manufacturer Renault, have also walked away.

Western retail merchants were not the only ones who chose to cut ties with Russia.

After Russian authorities approved a law mandating up to 15 years in jail for pieces containing “false news” about the conflict, several major independent news outlets shut down or halted operations.

Putin might have expected western corporates to disagree with his stance, but the President might have forgotten how this will affect the income of fellow Russians.

Demonstrators gather during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany. (source: REUTERS/Christian Mang)

After the pain of battling the pandemic, many Russians are now losing their jobs and are struggling for financial stability due to war.

The Russians started evacuating the nation early, terrified by brutal new government policies related to the war, which they considered a step toward dictatorship.

Young Russian men were reported to have left their homeland because they were afraid of being drafted into war.

As many as 200,000 Russians have fled the country since the war and while many chose to flee, it is no longer an easy task to do.

The United States and Canada, along with the 27 countries that make up the European Union, have banned flights to and from Russia.

Russians who did not have a stable income before the war are still trapped inside the country.

As the war continues and the people suffer, will Putin finally put an end to this conflict? Or will ego and power continue to blind world leaders?