AP PHOTOS: Russian shopping malls half-empty after the release of Western firms

Life in Moscow and St. Petersburg remains largely normal as Russia’s military operation in Ukraine enters its 15th week.

People walk and rejoice in the first rays of the late spring sun; restaurants are crowded, and most seem to have forgotten about the panic that lined up in front of ATMs and grocery stores in February and March.

However, some changes are visible – mostly those caused by Western sanctions and the massive, unprecedented withdrawal of Western business, which for three decades has become entrenched in everyday life in Russia.

Dozens of foreign and international companies have left the country, leaving behind half-empty shopping malls and closed doors in places that once buzzed from customers. Popular clothing brands, both luxury and affordable, coffee and fast food chains have become inaccessible to many Russians.

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