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Christmas is canceled: Russian mayors scrap holiday parties to buy war equipment

Mark down Christmas parties as the latest casualty of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Mayors across Russia are canceling their annual holiday celebrations in order to make room in their budgets for the “partial mobilization” of Russian conscripts. The draft has been marked by poor organization and complaints about lack of equipment and training, putting additional financial pressure on the local authorities.

“It was decided to cancel previously scheduled events dedicated to New Year festivities,” St. Petersburg Gov. Alexander Beglov announced Friday, according to Russian state media. “All available funds will be channeled into a special Saint Petersburg [account] stipulating extra outfit and gear for volunteers and mobilized citizens.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the draft in response to the face of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive that has rolled back the northern end of the Russian line while exposing Russian forces further south to the battering of Ukrainian artillery. The mobilization has not provided an immediate reversal of Russia’s battlefield fortunes, prompting open criticism of Russian leadership, even from Kremlin proxies in the occupied territories of Ukraine and prominent state media propagandists.


“Our army is 2 million people,” Russia-1 anchor Vladimir Solovyov said this week on a broadcast interpreted by the War Translated project. “Then tell me, where’s the army? … Don’t you have people who in theory [have seen] an assault rifle? Call them up, put them in the ranks.”

The mobilization order triggered an exodus of fighting-aged Russians keen to escape the country, along with complaints on social media from conscripts frustrated by the lack of training and equipment. The Kremlin’s reliance on local authorities to manage the mobilization has been taken, in Western military circles, as a sign that Ukraine has outperformed Russia’s ability to marshal an effective fighting force.

“There is nothing that Putin can do to reverse this,” former CIA Director David Petraeus said this week at the Warsaw Security Forum. “Putin tasked every Russian republic to provide a battalion. I mean, this is what we did in the Revolutionary War, ‘every town provides his own militia.’ This is not how you produce well-trained and equipped and capable military forces. So they have absolutely failed by comparison to what Ukraine has done.”

St. Petersburg isn’t the only city curtailing the holiday festivities to finance the war. Nizhny Novgorod will also scrap their “planned mass festivities, concerts and fireworks to mark the [upcoming] New Year,” Mayor Yury Shalabayev confirmed this week.


“Although, we planned them initially,” Shalabayev said.

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