Two years since Russia invaded Ukraine and in Moscow’s Victory Park, those we spoke to felt their country was on course.

“We’re doing the right thing, victory will be ours,” says a woman out for a midday stroll with her family. It’s a common enough phrase, but what victory actually means depends on who you ask.

“Victory means full defeat of the enemy,” her son, Temikhan, declares. “The principal enemy, the Nazis who are based there.”

“The Ukrainians are our fraternal people,” his mother adds. “They are not guilty of this.”

Temikhan is 15 and says he forms his opinions based on YouTube videos, Russian, Ukrainian, Sky News too.

“The people who wreak havoc there are monsters, they are not even human,” he says.

I ask about Alexei Navalny.

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Flowers laid in memory of Alexei Navalny in Moscow

Temikhan likes the fact he fought corruption, but isn’t sure about the rest.

“All his life, he criticised his motherland, the country that brought him up. That is very bad,” he says.

We happen across someone who has participated in the war.

“What channel? What state? Quickly!” he barks as I approach. I tell him.

“As a person who took part in the special military operation, don’t bother us, I don’t recommend it,” he tells me full of menace.

“Your island is small and your intelligence service sucks.”

A woman pleads with police to let her friend go after he visited a memorial to Alexei Navalny
A woman pleads with police to let her friend go after he visited a memorial to Alexei Navalny in Moscow

A 10-minute drive down Kutuzovsky Prospect, heading towards the Kremlin, is Ukrainsky Boulevard.

There is a statue there to Lesya Ukrainka, a famous 19th-century Ukrainian writer.

At the beginning of the war and each time there has been a major strike on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, Muscovites have come to lay flowers there.

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There have been detentions – police now know to guard it at key moments but generally they leave the flowers until at least nightfall.

On this anniversary they were cleared up as soon as they were laid.

Social media clips show “Z” types threatening people as they leave.

A man unfurling a “no war” banner there is taken away by police. He will probably just get a warning if it is a first offence, but it won’t be pleasant. And if it is not a first offence, the legal implications start to snowball.

A man holds a sign reading 'no war' in Moscow
A man holds a sign reading ‘no war’ in Moscow

In the evening, as I make my way further down Kutuzovsky Prospect, I look up at the multistorey office block that marks the beginning of the famous Novy Arbat and houses part of the city administration.

I know from memory the Moscow office for illegally annexed Crimea is there, and it commands impressive views across the city when you take the lift to the top.

As long as I can remember now – and this war seems endless – a giant “Z” has illuminated the building’s night-time facade. It is a welcome to Z-land for Vladimir Putin when he drives this route to the Kremlin for a late-night meeting.

It’s a reminder of a nation at war. For some in the capital, it’s a symbol to be proud of; for others, a mark of terrible shame.