Shelling, hot spots on the front line map, deaths and material losses are the reality of many Ukrainians over the past almost two years after the Russian invasion. However, on the home front, many continue to try to create the illusion of normalcy for themselves and their families – through sports, going to restaurants, and going on vacation. Should Ukrainians constantly choose one of two sides of this military reality?
The New Year holidays have revealed the paradoxes of modern Ukrainian life, when the contrast between two different realities is striking. On the one hand, there are streets and shops decorated for the Christmas and New Year holidays, holiday price lists of hotels and restaurants, and a large number of people in the shopping center looking for gifts. On the other hand, this is the second year of a full-scale war, enormous destruction throughout the country, daily shelling, thousands of dead and wounded at the front.
How appropriate is it now to live a full life and not limit yourself to anything? The answer to this very difficult question is not clear-cut. A recent study showed that while six out of ten Ukrainians believe that during the war we should significantly limit ourselves, more than a third of citizens believe that even now we should try to live a full life. What arguments do both sides make and how does the adoption of this or that decision affect the Ukrainian economy?
Pros and cons: is it possible to have fun in the rear when there is so much grief around
Of course, no one has a full life now in a country that is fighting aggression, because the basis of a full life is security. It was taken from the Ukrainians by Russia, which continues to attack cities and villages, constantly stimulating its military machine with the goal of destroying the country and population. However, even in such difficult conditions, residents of Ukraine can choose exactly how to build their lives and how to respond to risks.
Even in the difficult conditions of a full-scale war, Ukrainians can choose exactly how to build their lives and how to respond to security risks
Alexandra, 56, says that since February 24, 2022, she has been left with the impression that a huge nail was driven into her head. This “nail” does not give her the opportunity not only to have fun, but even to breathe calmly. And she slept for at least two hours in a row for a very long time – even before the war. “I physically can’t look at people rejoicing, laughing loudly,” admits Alexandra. “Because of this, I almost stopped communicating with friends. Many people think that I “buried myself alive,” but this seems more natural to me than celebrating what “It’s the holidays, go to restaurants and invite guests.”
Maria has a husband and eldest son on the front line, so her opinion is clear: the “extra money” that a person is willing to spend on entertainment should be donated to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “We haven’t celebrated holidays for almost two years now – we have neither the mood nor the money,” says the interlocutor The focus. It is interesting that Elena, who also has a husband at the front, always goes to travel abroad for a couple of weeks every two or three months and admits: her military husband himself tells her to continue living and be sure to have the opportunity to be under a peaceful sky, restoring your nerve cells.
They began to donate less: why volunteers still play a role in ensuring the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Kiev resident Tamara believes that we should try to live a full life, despite all the circumstances. “You don’t need to limit yourself, it all somehow limits itself. For example, I don’t even want to go anywhere – neither to visit, nor on holidays, nor to the theater. However, if such a desire sometimes arises, then I do not deny myself “.
During the 22 months of war, 27-year-old Oksana managed to meet her future husband, get married, and give birth to a daughter amid the sounds of an air raid raid. “Am I living a full life? Yes, I am. We celebrated a wedding in a restaurant, went to the Carpathians, and are going on holidays with friends. Nobody will give me back my 25 or my 26, and I’m going to live my life even under such conditions, as much as my capabilities allow,” says Oksana.
By the way, capabilities are an extremely important issue. After all, if some argue whether it is necessary or not to spend money on entertainment, others say that for them the question is not worth it at all. Prices are constantly rising, there is often not enough money even for essentials, so you have to limit yourself in everything not for moral, but for purely material reasons.
Research: 60% for restrictions, 36% for a full life
A recent Rating study attempted to ascertain public opinion on this issue as a whole. Respondents were asked which expression was closer to them – “during war you need to significantly limit yourself in entertainment and shopping” or “you need to try to live a full life.” There were almost twice as many supporters of restrictions (60%) as those who would like to live as always (36%). I wonder what this proportion has hardly changed since June 2022, when the answers were distributed in the ratio of 59% to 36%.
The answer to the question divided respondents by age and income: quite expectedly, younger and wealthy people want to live a full life much more than older and poorer people. Depending on the region, age, type of settlement and income, residents of western Ukraine (65%), citizens aged 51+ (65%), rural residents (62%) and low-income people (69%) were more prone to restrictions. But significantly fewer people wishing to limit themselves were among residents of Kyiv (53%), young people 18-35 years old (50%), city residents (59%) and wealthy people (51%).
But do such results mean that low-income people or, for example, citizens aged 51+ are more patriotic? Experts think not.
Firstly, some told lies, because not everyone can and wants to admit that they are not ready to sacrifice anything even during the war. Secondly, as noted above, those same low-income people simply do not have money for entertainment, and patriotism has nothing to do with it at all.
No restrictions: Ukrainians try not to reduce their consumption level
Director of the Restaurant Consulting company Olga Nasonova believes that if we look around, we are unlikely to see the consequences of austerity. “Almost all my friends strive to live a full life and, even more so, to have a blast. Those I don’t know, but I see, obviously have the same opinion: there are crowds in stores and shopping centers, the hosts of corporate events are busy to capacity, there are a lot of people in restaurants and cafes .First of all, this behavior is now explained by the holidays, because it is traditional for us to spend a lot on Christmas and New Year. In January, stores and restaurants will be much more spacious, but not now. Of course, those people who have loved ones at the front, or those who have experienced tragedies and losses in the family, behave differently. But many of the “proponents of restrictions” are simply not telling the truth.“.
If there were really 60% of those who limit themselves, business would become even more polarized. For example, only expensive establishments and cheap street food would thrive in the restaurant industry
Thrifty people don’t go to restaurants, the expert continues. According to her, if there were really 60% of those who limit themselves in everything, business would become even more polarized. That is, only expensive establishments, whose audience does not skimp on themselves, and cheap street food would flourish. “Now there is such polarization, but not in large cities where there is a middle class. Therefore, in Kyiv there are many mid-price cafes and restaurants,” she noted in the commentary Focus Olga Nasonova.
Analyst of the Analytical Center “United Ukraine” Oleksiy Kushch believes that the answers of the study respondents are more consistent not with reality, but with behavioral stereotypes and old mental codes that have been embedded in many since the times of the USSR. “If a person believes that now in the economy it is possible to apply methods that worked during the Second World War – limiting yourself in everything, introducing cards, etc. – we can say that mentally he is still in that period,” noted expert in conversation with Focus.
The path to recovery: the Cabinet of Ministers explained how the economy will change until 2026
Director of the Economic Discussion Club Oleg Pendzin also believes that the results of this study do not reflect the actual state of affairs. IN In general, the problem of today’s Ukrainian society is that in words everyone is in favor of general mobilization and reduction of consumption, but only until the matter affects him personally. “Today we have a negative trade balance, which, by the way, is covered from macro-financial assistance, is at the level of $22 billion. That is, we bought $22 billion more goods on foreign markets than we sold. Moreover, in structure these are mainly durable goods “household appliances, gadgets, cars,” noted Oleg Pendzin in a comment Focus. “This definitely has nothing to do with any savings or restrictions, but suggests that people, as far as possible, are trying not to reduce their consumption level.”
By the way, the conclusions about “60% for the restriction” also contradict real consumption figures. For example, one of the well-known supermarket chains increased its network from 305 to 316 stores during 2023, and the expected revenue of the network for 2023 is about 80 billion UAH, which is more than 10% higher than the sales income received in 2022. This also indicates that Ukrainians do not limit themselves at least in purchasing products. This is a plus for the economy, because taxes are the main source of financing the army and state budget expenditures for the needs of the military. It turns out that the more Ukrainians save, the more difficult it will be to pay off their obligations to the military.
How will we earn money? Main economic forecasts for 2024
In any country, the basis for business functioning is the domestic market, says Oleg Pendzin. In simple terms, a business operates to sell goods and services primarily to domestic consumers. “But for the last two years, the Ukrainian domestic market has existed due to macro-financial assistance: they received money, distributed it to people in the form of salaries, pensions, payments and created domestic demand. The economic recovery by 5% in 2023 was entirely due to the domestic market. And it would be very good if the income that creates this consumer market within the country were formed due to the results of the Ukrainian economy“.
However, unfortunately, the expert concluded, our economy is now sitting on the needle of foreign aid, and if we pull out this needle, we will see a very negative result. The first signs of this are already visible – statements from the authorities that pensions may not be indexed, and salaries will be paid with delays if Ukraine does not receive tranches of financial support from partners on time.