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Russians are angry Putin is spending billions on an unpopular war as they freeze back home, report says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 12/2/2022 sankel@businessinsider.com (Sophia Ankel)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the SCTO Summit in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022. Contributor/Getty Images © Contributor/Getty Images Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the SCTO Summit in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022. Contributor/Getty Images
  • Russians are accusing Putin of ignoring domestic problems while focusing on the war in Ukraine. 
  • Some Russians are complaining about a lack of heating in their homes, The Daily Beast reported.
  • Forbes Ukraine estimated last week that Russia has spent around $82 billion in the war so far. 

Russians are angry President Vladimir Putin is spending billions on an increasingly unpopular war in Ukraine as they freeze back home, The Daily Beast reported on Thursday. 

As Russian troops continue to strike Ukraine's vital power in fractures — plunging millions into darkness — Russians at home are also struggling to keep afloat amid crippling Western sanctions. 

People living in many of the remote regions of the country, where conditions are at their worst, have been complaining about a lack of heating in their homes and burst water pipes, The Beast reported, citing social media posts. 

Remote regions including Tyumen and Yakutia are among the worst affected, reporting many victims of frost in the past week, the outlet reported.

"They take young men—the only breadwinners—away and send them back in coffins. The guys freeze on the front, get sick, die while their families live in poverty," Valentina Melnikova, an activist with the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, told The Beast.

"It seems authorities have no interest left in human lives at this point," she added.

Nikolay Zolotov, a Russian blogger who lives in a republic in Siberia, told the Beast: "Dark times. Ukraine is surviving without heating and light and here in Khakasia our life is awfully hard."

"Bursting pipes is not the worst problem: people live on tiny salaries in a poorly maintained city, without cash to buy food, while our government spends billions on the special operation in Ukraine," he added.

It is unclear how much exactly Putin is spending on the war in Ukraine, which continues nine months after the Russian leader launched his large-scale invasion.

Forbes Ukraine estimated last week that Russia has spent around $82 billion — a quarter of its annual budget.

Among other costs, this estimate includes nearly $29 billion that Moscow has allocated to support its army with weapons and equipment, $16 billion for soldiers' salaries, and more than $9 billion to pay off the families of servicemen killed in combat.

The war will not get any cheaper for Putin, Forbes Ukraine said, estimating that it will cost at least $10 billion a month going forward.

The reports come amid numerous battlefield setbacks in recent weeks for Russia, which has started looking to countries like Iran, North Korea, and Syria for assistance.

Other reports of mobilized Russian soldiers being deployed with little training and poor equipment have prompted more Russians to publicly voice their criticisms. 

Before the war, which started on February 24, Putin admitted that poverty was Russia's biggest challenge, calling it the country's "main enemy" in 2019, The Beast reported.

"Our main goal is to improve the quality of life for our citizens," he said. 

Meanwhile, Russian attacks have crippled half of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, a top World Health Organization official said last month, leaving millions of people across the country without power and water.

The upcoming winter "will be about survival" for Ukrainians, the official warned.

Correction: December 2, 2022 — An earlier version of this story listed Karaganda as a city in Russia. Karaganda is part of Kazakhstan.

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