Survey evidence suggests that a majority of Russian citizens support Vladimir Putin’s decision to use military force in Ukraine. Kseniya Kizilova and Pippa Norris assess whether this gives an accurate picture of the views of ordinary Russians about the war.
The long-term outcome of Putin’s bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine will depend on hard power (coercion, tanks and rockets versus Molotov cocktails and rifles) as well as soft power (winning hearts and minds at home and abroad). And in turn, soft power depends on cultural attitudes and information streams flowing through legacy airwaves, digital platforms, and personal networks.
Surveys conducted immediately before and after the outbreak of the Ukrainian invasion on 24 February report that the majority of ordinary Russians expressed support for the Ukrainian war and for President Putin. Overall, across the series of initial polls, a ‘silent majority’ – about 60% of Russian respondents – indicated that they endorsed the “special military operation” in Ukraine. But are these results reliable indicators of Russian views prior to the invasion? In February and early-March, did the majority of ordinary Russians actually sympathise with Putin’s decision to declare war?
History will ultimately decide how much of the blame for initiating the bloodshed rests on Vladimir Putin alone, as well as his Kremlin acolytes, and how much responsibility rests with the tacit acceptance of ordinary Russians. It is important to determine this issue morally, to assess culpability for the conflict, and legally, to prosecute potential war crimes. Understanding Putin’s soft power can also provide insights into the long-term consequences of the conflict for his leadership and for the future of both countries.
The early polls can be treated, like surveys elsewhere, as genuine signals of Russian public opinion. After all, cultural attitudes of nationalism, patriotism, and support for strong leaders remain powerful forces in the world. Many Russian citizens may have no idea of what is happening in their name and judge based only on pictures from Russian state TV.
State propaganda and fake news about Ukraine “shooting its own citizens in the Donbas region” started back in 2014 and since then has been increasing in its pace and volume. Even if many ordinary Russians are badly misinformed, however, the early polls may still capture authentic attitudes reflecting a silent majority at home supporting Putin’s actions, and thus represent the social construction of reality in modern Russia. At the same time, there are several potential arguments why the results from the early polls should be treated with great caution – or perhaps even discounted as meaningful.
State censorship and biased pollsters
One argument suggests that many Russian market research organisations like VCIOM and FOM are state controlled and far from equivalent reputable independent polls by, say, Gallup, IPSOS or YouGov. This could indeed be an issue. Yet the results of several early surveys from different polling agencies, while far from identical, appear to suggest that in the initial phase, at least, the invasion was supported by the majority of the Russian public.
The most reputable public opinion data available in Russia are from the Levada Center, a non-governmental research organisation conducting regular surveys since 1988. Levada surveys on 17-21 February found that the majority of respondents (52%) felt negatively towards Ukraine. Most (60%) blamed the US and NATO for the escalation of tensions in Eastern Ukraine, while only 4% blamed Russia. Their polls suggest that net public approval of Putin had surged by about 13 percentage points since December, a rally-round-the-flag effect, with almost three-quarters (71%) expressing approval of his leadership by February.
These were not isolated results; even stronger sentiments were recorded in the pre-war poll conducted on 7-15 February for CNN in Russia by a British agency, Savanta ComRes, where half (50%) agreed that “it would be right for Moscow to use military force to prevent Kyiv from joining NATO”. Two thirds of Russians (64%) in the poll said that Russians and Ukrainians are ‘one people’, a position taught in the Soviet era and a view that Vladimir Putin has been pushing, compared to just 28% of Ukrainians.
In their survey of 25-27 February, VCIOM reported strong support for the “special military operation” in Ukraine, with two thirds (68%) in favour, around one quarter (22%) against, and only 10% unable to provide an answer. FOM showed that 65% of respondents supported the “launch of Russia’s special military operation” in a 25-27 February survey. A private survey agency, Russian Field, reported that 58.8% of respondents supported “Russian military action in Ukraine” in polls conducted from 26-28 February. Finally, the Washington Post also reported that a poll conducted a week into the assault by a consortium of researchers again confirmed that the majority of Russians (58%) approved of the invasion while only a quarter (23%) opposed it.
Clearly not all Russians supported the war prior to the outbreak of the conflict but overall, a majority of about 60% did, according to different measures by different polls. If a common bias influences the results of all the private and state-controlled survey organisations, then this suggests it is impossible to establish any systematic and genuine evidence of Russian public opinion either for or against the war.
Self-censorship and response bias
Another potential reason for any potential bias could lie in self-censorship by respondents, generating inauthentic replies and response bias. Citizens living in repressive states may avoid expressing dissenting views in survey interviews involving sensitive issues to avoid the risk of their opinions being reported to state authorities.
This claim may also be valid. Even in Western countries it is often difficult to establish truthful views in surveys where respondents may be reluctant to express their views in direct question about certain moral topics for fear of social sanction, such as those concerning risky sexual behaviour, the overt expression of racism, sexism, and homophobia, or even their turnout to vote. Difficulties are further compounded when monitoring attitudes towards the authorities in repressive states lacking human rights and freedom of expression.
Survey list experiments are designed to detect hidden biases. Some studies using this technique to measure Putin’s popularity found only modest response biases. Others, however, detect more substantial practices of self-censorship, such as studies in China. Our own (forthcoming) list experiments in the World Values Survey suggest varied degrees of bias in people expressing support for their own leader across diverse authoritarian states like Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Iran. Yet even if some Russians self-censor, it remains doubtful if even the most generous estimates of response bias could reverse the balance of public opinion reported in many of the early polls favouring the use of military force in Ukraine.
Protests and dissent
Another view suggests that a more reliable guide to ‘genuine’ Russian attitudes may be read from the exodus of dissenters and the outbreak of mass street protests and civil disobedience. Human rights groups report widespread anti-war protests in cities across the country despite harsh police crackdowns and the risks of serious injury and imprisonment. Thousands of anti-war demonstrators have been arrested to date. Thousands more Russians have fled abroad.
But the claim that dissenters express the underlying genuine views of most ordinary Russians may reflect Western hopes more than reality. Activists normally constitute an atypical cross-section of the general population in most countries, even in liberal democracies without constraints on freedom to demonstrate peacefully. The ‘silent majority’ is unlikely to engage.
Hypothetical questions and fluid opinion
Further doubts about the reliability of Russian polls may arise concerning the meaning of survey responses on hypothetical issues where public opinion remains fluid and vague. This process can generate ‘top of the head’ answers ticking the interviewer’s boxes but where most people probably haven’t given the matter much thought.
The early polls are just that. Attitudes are likely to become firmer over time, although the direction of any response depends on cultural values and the attribution of blame. Whether Russian attitudes persist as events unfold currently remains an open question, particularly as soldiers come home in body-bags, economic sanctions bite even harder, personal messages flow across borders, and the strength of Ukrainian resistance becomes evident.
Dramatic shifts in public and elite opinion have occurred around the world following the historic events in Ukraine, and blanket media coverage of the heart-rending images of refugees, cities flattened to rubble, speeches by President Zelensky, and moving interviews with ordinary Ukrainians. Their impact is exemplified by dramatic policy changes in funding the military and the importance of security in NATO member states (especially Germany) and the EU.
But the impact of war coverage on domestic opinion in Russia depends on prior cultural attitudes, especially fatalism towards the authorities and the powerful forces of nationalism, as well as efforts to access the available information. Even if opposition gradually grows, however, subsequent polls cannot be read backwards as an indication of Russian opinions at the time of the invasion.
‘Brainwashing’ through media censorship, state propaganda, and disinformation
The final and most plausible explanation for the initial polls reporting Russian support of the war lies in the manipulation of public opinion through state control of communication channels, and the widespread use of censorship, propaganda, and disinformation at home and abroad.
Reports suggest that Russians have dismissed the word of friends and relatives living in Ukraine with first-hand experience of the war. Instead, Russians suggest that the Ukrainian army attacked its own population in ‘false flag’ operations to blame Putin, following the orders of the Ukrainian government consisting of “neo-fascists”, “nationalists” and “drug-addicts”. This “official” account of the events, formulated by Putin’s regime, has been widely disseminated via state TV. Information shared in Ukrainian or international media is labelled as “fake”, while graphical images of flattened Ukrainian cities are described as “manipulated”.
State control of the media has grown for many years under Putin, a process sharply accelerated in recent weeks. The Varieties of Democracy project publishes a freedom of expression and alternative sources of information index which reflects how far government respects press and media freedom. Since 2000, the index has steadily plummeted in Russia and by comparison it has been higher in Ukraine.
The latest crackdown has greatly tightened Putin’s censorship, for example a new law means that journalists providing military information deemed false by the state could face jail sentences up to 15 years, many international news corporations like CNN and the BBC have suspended operations, and the remaining independent media outlets in Russia, like the newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the independent TV channel Dozhd, have been shuttered. Even before these events, in 2021 Russia ranked 150th lowest out of 180 countries worldwide in press freedom, according to Reporters without Borders.
Figure 1: Freedom of expression and alternative sources of information index scores for Russia and Ukraine
Source: Varieties of Democracies dataset 2021.
But modern well-educated middle-class Russians, particularly tech-savvy younger generations, have not yet become as isolated and rigidly controlled as populations living in Turkmenistan, Eritrea, and North Korea. To counter censorship, Russians can still use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to gain access to international news – and demand has surged. But access takes effort and technical know-how. Evidence from the latest World Values Survey, conducted in Russia in 2018 and Ukraine in 2020, indicates that two-thirds of Russians still use television as their primary source of daily news and only a minority rely on the internet. By contrast, in Ukraine, for example, an almost equal number of people now use the internet as well as TV news.
Figure 2: Information sources used on a daily basis to learn what is going on in your country
Source: World Values Survey wave 7 (2018-2021), N=1289 in Ukraine; N=1810 in Russia.
Among Russian internet users, even before recent state bans on international platforms like Facebook and Twitter, many relied on domestic sources. According to Wave 3 of the Eurasia Barometer (EAB) conducted in November 2021, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, both Russian social media platforms, were widely used at home. Ukrainians also used Western/international social media far more than Russians.
Figure 3: Use of social media in Ukraine and Russia
Source: Eurasia Barometer wave 3 (Nov 2021), N=1509 in Ukraine; N=1205 in Russia. Shares of users are calculated to using all those interviewed as the baseline. In both countries about 16% of respondents reported to “never” use any of social networks, including due to having no access to the internet.
Most importantly, we find that use of TV and the internet predict Russian political attitudes, but in divergent directions. The Eurasia Barometer survey, founded in 1989, provides one of the most authoritative and reliable sources of academic data. The survey monitors trust in the President and assessments of Russia’s influence on the world. In general, in November 2021 the role of Russia in the world was regarded positively by about 81% of respondents in Russia and only 14% in Ukraine. Trust in their own leader reached 59% in Russia and just 35% in Ukraine.
Table 1: Media sources and political perceptions in Russia
Source: Eurasia Barometer wave 3 in Russia (N=1205; November 2021).
After controlling for standard background characteristics, watching TV news was positively linked with Russian trust in Putin, and positive perceptions of Russia’s role in the world. By contrast, using the internet and social media in Russia produces the reverse pattern, with less trust in Putin and more negative views of Russia’s influence. Radio and newspaper use are more mixed. This process is likely to work as a ‘virtuous circle’; both self-selection of news sources, and the effects of exposure, link the correlation connecting use of the media with political attitudes.
The impact of online resources and social media diverge sharply in both countries. In Russia, state propaganda on television and censorship of independent social media has isolated the country and successfully brainwashed numerous citizens to obediently repeat the narratives “as heard on TV”. It requires an effort for Russians to obtain and compare information from various sources. It requires far more sacrifice for ordinary citizens to stand up and express any public dissent with the authorities.
It is easiest for us all to blame Putin, his Kremlin acolytes and the security forces for the carnage, rubble, and bloodshed in this war of choice. But even passive public support expressed in polls for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine means that, as with Hitler’s ‘willing executioners’, some broader culpability for the subsequent catastrophe in both countries is shared among the silent majority of ordinary citizens in Russian society.
In Ukraine, by contrast, the flood of real-time videos across Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media networks has become a major source of information about the cruelty of Putin’s ruthless actions towards their country and exposed Moscow’s propaganda, both at home and abroad. The direct voices of the Ukrainian people, not least through interviews with numerous fluent English speakers, refugees, and official spokespersons, have been heard all over the world.
All Ukrainian settlements share constantly updated live information through several Telegram channels and WhatsApp groups about the ongoing shelling and fire alarms, gains and losses among Ukrainian forces and the civilian population, the schedule for pharmacies and supermarkets, available humanitarian and medical help, and much more. Thousands of videos of the conflict are disseminated on a daily basis. Social media has thereby helped to coordinate Ukrainian defence, evacuation, and humanitarian activities at home, while the whole world watches the conflict live and in real time.
In an attempt to curb this process, Moscow has sought to export its well-established fake news and disinformation practices into Ukraine. In early March, TV towers were attacked in Kyiv and Kharkiv. The broadcasting tower was seized by the Russian invaders in Kherson, with local TV and radio channels switched to Russia-promoting video and audio messages. The Russian-appointed new “acting mayor” of Melitopol has urged that local people switch to Russian TV channels for “more reliable” information. These strategies are designed to enforce a false narrative around Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, as well as revising the whole history of Ukraine-Russia relations.
Lessons from the information wars
Therefore, several polls from diverse polling organisations have reported that the silent majority of Russians – roughly 60% – initially favoured the use of force in Ukraine and polls have also registered rising support for Putin. Many factors may potentially help to explain these results.
Putin’s domestic control rests on hard power, namely harsh coercion over opponents, like the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny. But it also depends on soft power, notably prior cultural values and feelings of nationalism reinforced by state control of television news and newspapers, following the gradual crackdown on the free press during recent decades, and accelerated by recent draconian restrictions on independent channels. Official censorship has aggressively throttled independent sources of news about Ukraine. Self-censorship is likely to have reinforced a spiral of silence in society, with perceptions of majority support amplifying official propaganda while silencing critics.
The Ukrainian conflict, like other modern conflicts, involves a complex combination of ‘hard power’ military force and ‘soft power’ information wars. So far on the world stage, following the unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation, the moral clarity of Ukrainian refugees, and the bravery of the resistance, Ukraine has achieved an overwhelming ‘soft power victory’ worldwide. This is exemplified by the almost universal condemnation and call for unconditional withdrawal expressed by member states in the UN General Assembly.
But unless that message also penetrates hearts and minds at home throughout Russia, sparking active dissent and domestic outrage against a war that is wrecking both countries, it is powerless to challenge Putin’s rule. In the interim, while the free world watches in horror, hard power continues to turn Ukrainian cities into rubble.
Note: This article gives the views of the authors, not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy or the London School of Economics. Featured image credit: Karina Kegy on Unsplash
This brilliant analysis must be shared widely as a matter of great urgency !
Of course it necessarily leaves open many questions. We must not just. as scholars, wait for the answers. As human beings we must help determine them, achieve an end to the war and then face building a new, difficult, peace
Editors feel free to cut all the rest! I stand by it but it’s too long
Of course I speak only for myself.
I will share this feebly, with long-standing toes to Ukrainian colleagues and friends and courageous Russian opponents of the war from day one, with the first agonised sentiment “I am only glad my grandparents did not live to see this” from a very well-established Russian professor of economics and expert on gender equality, I have been painfully aware I sit in comfort at LSE, proud of it , warm, well-fed, my biggest gripe the inadequate, underfunded LSE IT data system and the tailback on Kingsway this morning because of historically stupid London road repair management! So I have been rather quiet though helping “my” Sumy State University as helpless as we are.
In all media I make clear that the country where I was born and raised.was guilty of war crimes too, in the conduct of the war in Vietnam: napalm, jellied gasoline, the sentence for the authors of My Lai massacre with women and children massacred too I can’t ignore NATO bombing Belgrade with such precision the US forces managed to strike the completely neutral Chinese Embassy and kill journalists. Knowledge of this has also always propped up that KGB apparatchik who actually has a potentially fragile hold on power … the last item on Belgrade, the knowledge of the rest, undoubtedly a cause of the very regrettable recent Chinese reaction They are not going to call on NATO, which exists for itself.
All this material in the paragraph requires nuance which is difficult on social media. So I turn to others.to do it.
A summary of this is needed in 500 words so this can go multinationally viral.
I see from it at once I must use my dormant Вконтаке and tell this to Facebook Russian friends campaigning with such intensity and courage
This circulates against faster moving and dangerous reports such as the recent one from Active Report in Ukraine, promoting pessimism and national hatreds. This piece here also cautions against false optimism
Everyone should scan next too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_falsification
Then we can understand and model public opinion as a series of dominos.
In Russia the dominos bunch even more strongly because of so few historical periods safe to think freely. Cognitive dissonance is now a phenomenon known to us all. If you must be silent it’s easier to want to be silent, or as also I’m fifties America avoid all politics
There is still a chance for a swift and decent outcome from which we can work.
We must “know the causes of things” as this probes, The stakes are alarmingly high as a possibly terminally ill man without great love for his children can contemplate levelling us all down to the ashes he will soon face.
Thank you, Doctors Kislova and Norris. I hope we can use this well
Thanks so much, Judith, for your kind comments. Lots of research still to understand the many complex drivers of this war but clearly the ‘great man’ theory of simply blaming Putin is inadequate.
The free world had hoped that national coercion at the level we’re seeing now in Russia was all but impossible. We’re seeing history repeat itself in exactly the same way Hitler and the Nazi’s manipulated the Germans in WW2. What had we failed to learn to prevent this history from repeating itself? Is it possible to prevent this type of national brainwashing? What steps would have to be made to ensure a balanced biased approach to the media, culture, history? If we can’t do these things, then we’re doomed to continue this cycle of bias, hate, and war. It’s so painful for me to hear the Kremlin finally admitting that they have lost a substantial number of their military forces, and in the same sentence calling it a tragedy, suggesting that this tragedy is the fault of the Ukrainians. One thing the Russians should know, without too much research is that Ukraine did not want this war, they wanted to peacefully resolve the security issues with Putin. Zelensky called Putin before this “military operation” began to prevent the conflict from happening…he got silence on the phone. The tragedy is clearly that the Russians forcefully invaded a sovereign nation (twice) and that all of these innocent people have to die…but just as tragically that Russians believe that their invaders, losing their lives, is somehow Ukraine’s fault for trying to defend their freedom and sovereignty.
At some point, the Russian people must also be held accountable for the atrocities being inflicted in Ukraine. True, information is being controlled by the Kremlin, but it doesn‘t take much effort, brains or morality to question what is going on. The information is there if they‘re willing to look and think for themselves. It is a choice. It‘s easier to say „it‘s not my fault – it‘s not my problem.“ When the truth is presented to them they refuse to believe. They must question why all international media has been censored, why all foreign companies are leaving Russia, why the Ruble has been reduced to rubble. They must question why they are the subject of such severe sanctions (or if they can‘t even believe that sanctions are in place, why Putin allows them to suffer so much from an economic perspective).
I find it absolutely ironic that the Russian regime continues to toe the line that the purpose of the „military Intervention“ was to save the Ukrainian people from a Neo-Nazi Regime. Ukraine is is a Country with a democratically elected President who is Jewish, along with a good portion of the Ukrainian people. Are the Russian people so uneducated and brain-washed that they can‘t see this for what it is? I can’t believe this. It is the choice of the Russian people to bury their heads in the sand and simply say „the Western world is against us“. The German population said the same thing when the Nazis started WWII. At some point, the choice of ignorance or silence is not a defence. Many of the Russian people have suffered through Stalin as did my own family. They‘ve simply traded Stalin for Putin. By now, they must be able to recognize a despot when they‘re faced with one. At some point the Russian people become responsible for the actions of their country. Russian people are extremely strong and proud of their heritage. They‘ve survived more devastation that most countries. Unfortunately, it‘s mostly been inflicted by their own countrymen. For all of their strength and pride, the people have shown themselves to be provincial and cowardly.
I would never wish death and destruction on anyone, but part of being a human being is having the strength and morality to stand up against despotism and evil, even if only for your own people. To all those Russians who have had the backbone to protest against the war, I cannot express how much respect I have for your courage. It is unfair that you shoulder the burden, guilt and risk to your own lives for what is happening.
It is dangerous and unfair to paint everyone with the same brush, but it‘s unfair to see the absolute devastation that one country can inflict on another. I have no sympathy for the Russian people. They should be made to walk through the ruins and graves of the Neo-Nazi children Putin was so threatened by. They should be forced to bury the bodies of the elderly blown up in their apartments, they should be forced to pick up the bloody pieces of the pregnant women who died in the maternity wards that Putin bombed. But, as sure as day turns to night, they will be able to hide behind their dictator-President and deny the war ever happened. They can be proud that their country is safe from the dead people who used to be their brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers. For this, Russia, and her people, will forever be tarnished and ostracized from civil society.
To add substance to the point the authors make on current survey falsification, read the information of the first-rate economist Dr Tatiana Mikhailova on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/100003400371077/posts/4653631884760111/
She explains how her survey with the stolen name VTsIOM started May we record your telephone numbe? Her answer is witty and admirable in the face of threats.
There is more added by others., such as how many decline to participate.
I am sure tne authors will find it interesting And all of us
Putin is going to be taken out in the most dreadfullest way ,it’s a shame he won’t live to feel the pain the Ukraine people have endured what this murderous cretin has done to a lovely peaceful nation .shame Russians can’t comprehend surely in their heart of hearts they know if you you don’t stand up to this evil beast mad vlad Hitler ,Hitler was a bit more compassionate than this evil shit phlegm saliva merde inhuman evil thing .please rise up against these monsters ,this is the worst of all we had to face come on world come on nato only one chance for peace on earth GET SERIOUS STOP PUSSYFOOTING BLOW THE KREMLIN OFF THE PLANET they have no place in our lovely world .Tony
Two-thirds of Russians (64%) in the survey said Russians and Ukrainians are “one people” – a position taught during the Soviet era…, compared to 28% of Ukrainians. This is not just a position that was taught in the Soviet Union – it is a historical fact of at least a thousand years of history, confirmed by genetic analysis. The very etymology of the word Ukraine confirms this. Ukraine is a suburb. Outskirts of what? Moldova, Poland? No Russia. The term Ukraine itself appeared only in the 19th century.
Why only 28% of Ukrainians don’t think so? Because for more than 30 years, since the 80s, nationalist propaganda has been carried out, which the leadership of the Union looked through its fingers. And especially intensified after the Maidan. Or do you think that propaganda was only in Russia? I lived in Europe for 6 years, and for 20 years I have not watched Russian television, and I do not support Putin’s policy towards Russia at all. However, I support an invasion to purge Nazism. In Germany, Nazism did not immediately take hold. If the world community had stopped the growth of Nazism in the 1930s, there would not have been millions who died in that war. In addition, calling for peace and financing Ukraine, sending mercenaries and weapons are two mutually exclusive actions. In words you are for peace, but in deeds you are for war.
This war is Russia’s shame. I am in complete agreement with “AR”, ultimately it is the responsibility first of Russians to cure their country of Putin and put a stop to this madness. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi would have demanded the entire unified population resort to passive resistance. I for one see no other way out of it for Russian citizenry. I for one see no way out of it for the world. Other solutions put the entirety of humanity at risk. The Russian people have to face their home-grown monster and disarm it themselves, or like Germany after the WWII, they will face great shame for generations, if mankind lasts that long.
Titika, please don’t ever share your thoughts publically again. It’s amazing how well you’ve digested Soviet propaganda and spat it out (exactly what this article mentioned about). Do you even go to LSE or are an academic? Please spend some time to study and read about the historical beginnings of Ukraine and Russia before vomiting out Soviet fairy tales. I can tell that you have spent too much time watching russia today
Britain destroyed the Nazis, the USA allowed it to continue ignoring Churchill’s warnings, Stalin was the problem and still exists today, without the support of the UK to Russia during WW11, everyone will be speaking German. Russia only exists because of the UK. The Uk had to relinguish the commonwealth and it’s territories for the USA to supply Britain with it’s supplies, so if you need to blame anyone it’s the yanks. Narzism started after WW1 with Hitler, i do not see a comparison with Putins claim, it’s probably an excuse to invade. Why Putin thought threatened is beyond me, who the hell want’s to control Russia, maybe the Chinese, now there’s a thought, that’s a different type of Narzism.
Steve Good there is no need for you to go after my country like that. we did not want to enter a 2nd world war we did not allow the nazis to spread because we had no part in the events happening in europe at that time and it was the English and the French who let Germany take land from other countries the only reason we joined the war was because the Japinese attacked us and by the time. and when we did join France was under German control and the UK almost fell because of the Germans. Also the Ukrainian president is a jewish believer so I agree with the statement of “it is probably an excuse to invade” it was an excuse to invade. P.S. sorry for the rant above.
So, only those who are not responsible for the carnage are to be held responsible for it? What a perverse reading of the situation and how akin to the apologists for Putin and his fascist regime. Shame on you, shame.
Extremely one sided & polarizing article. A waste of time; to write about results you’ve either way expected & wanted, and to read it.
Leon, I share your pain at what Titika and so many Russians currently believe. However, it is wonderful that thoughts are shared: how else will we change minds?
I am sorry I have no time to edit this, but must share my thinking
You offer no argument against her view, not even the evidence of mass bombing of civilians. Nothing to read or see on YouTube You even accept the idea that Soviet teaching was of “one people” but that is not generally true. What else was the basis for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s founder membership of the United Nations, apart from the enormous losses suffered of course? Why was the local TV channel in Kharkiv;Kharkov in Ukrainian in Soviet times?
Titika can you carry on a conversation in Ukrainian ? Not just gist it’s, as you can Polish?
I am not of the view the comments section of a blog, in English. is the place for this. Only instant throwaway lines Leon, where is the website built by Russians to combat this? Clever engaging as convincing as the RT lies ?
On denazification. It is perhaps too cheap to note Zelenskiy is Jewish. Or that Zhirinovsky’s party entered the Duma with open fascist references, I don’t like the Azov Battalion but why are they needed?
Does any of this excuse murdering children ? I believe the first humanitarian corridor was strafed coming out of Sumy, because a colleague I have mentored was on it with her baby daughter. Would you like to speak with her? She made it to Switzerland and can do so?
Yes, Ukraine, like Russia, has more than one nationality. It will need a good federal constitution as soon as hostilities cease. You really think you will convince people by bombing them? It’s had the opposite effect as you see. Even a Nigerian students offered safe passage out of Sumy to Russia by their embassy refused
Of course it won’t convince the people bombing them (despite Ukrainians tried it in Lugansk and Doneck. You can still beleive that these are fakes but I have few persons I was talking personally with from there) and yes, the war should be stopped. But first, Zelesnky, being Jewish has the far right wing behind his back (and his winning in elections were very supported by the) who won’t let him to sing any agreements as their aim is to clean Doneck and Lugansk territories from pro-Russians. From other side we have Putin who is to long in power and aiming to clean the same territories form far right wing of Ukraine. Supporting any side we stimulating the continuation of war. I support only refugees as people are suffering.
Putin is a disgrace and a mass murderer , but the soldiers now raping , torturing and executing Ukrainians are , of course, the sons of Russian mothers, the ordinary people of Russia whose thoughts on their leader and conduct of their military we are trying to fathom out .They may say they are just obeying orders ‘ by invading a country , but their conduct in Ukraine is their own decision ..a soldier can and of course should disobey an order to rape and murder if such an order is issued but most likely these soldiers are acting for themselves. It is a deep stain on all Russian people that they are doing what they are doing , to the extent , like with the Holocaust, the leaders of Russia feel they can only try to deny and cover it up with accusations that Ukrainians are faking it
How many Russian mothers have brought up rapists and sadistic murderers ? It looks like many; how can the world rely on Russian morals to prevail over evil Putin? Can Russia show it has good somewhere in its population willing to stand up to evil?
As an American Citizen of Parent born in Berlin Germany who suffered through the war with Hitler. And my Southern father who faught for freedom. Then a brother born in Berlin but like my mother grandmother had dual Citizen ship and did 2 tours of duty in Viet Nam. And survived. For us also Desert Storm ISIS . And 9 11 now this horror with Ukraine on top of the Pandemic and Insurection of Jan 6 at the Capital… I am so sick that anyone regardless of their faith or country pride could condone this type of violence. And not be upset. But that’s what Opession and Propoganda is about. Control
. Sanctions against the Russian citizens really does not help. But shutting down the Deutches Bank does. They wash all the dirty money for the Oligarchs. All over the world. Been doing it for years. They continue. Want to stop the money train in Russia China Middle East and other countries of oppressed shut down their bank.
Were the many Russian students at LSE surveyed in this research? I would be curious to know how they are divided in their beliefs.
Russia had it all going for them until now, Putin has just put Russia back to an economy of WW1.
Completely missed those who hang up the phone, who would be the most likely to not have a strong opinion, and don’t want anyone to know their opinion. This could result in a huge errors of the poll in sampling the population. In short, any poll where the recipients don’t trust the random person calling them, and where there is the perception that they could be adversely affect by giving the non-state sanctioned answer is garbage.
This is a great articale representing how Russians are feeling towards the Ukranian crisis, however there much more to say regarding the responsibility of Russians for what has happenned. As I see from some of the comments, for instance “AR” and the quote “Russian people must also be held accountable for the atrocities being inflicted in Ukraine”, are simply not quite reasonable and nationalistic. There are 144 million people living in Russia with an average of 1 to 2 children being born in an average family, which does not show the exact number of children living in Russia, but it does say that a lot of innocent children will be met with a repression from the outside world. A certain population of Russia are teenagers that are mostly not into politics, which I believe adds up to the number of children, as one is not responsible until one is 18 or older. Moving on to the adults, this is where it becomes much more complicated, as while information is being controlled by Kremlin, one can go to a prison for a long time for just acknowledging something that is against the regime or simply mentioning as a joke. People are extremely afraid of it, as by being sent to Russian prison is sometimes worse than just being murdered, as practices of torturing inmates still remain. The case of Navalny is a perfect example when the amount of people did not matter, as thousands went to the meetings against the Russian elites and for Navalny and most of them were being beaten and sent to prison (it is not public for what and for how long). With this being said, it is evident that the war happening in the Ukarine is horrific, however not all Russian popualtion is responsible for this and as I believe google has the list of the names who are.
I think it a grave mistake for Western governments to have banned RT and for the media not to have provided on a dalily basis exactly what is being offered to Russians as so called news..Broad generalizations are no substitue for a detailed dailly commentary on what Russians are being told.. those of us who follow the best of Western media closely feel bereft. .
What a great point against the banning of RT, Rachel Sharp.
had only objected in my occasional Facebook forays that it gave weapons to Putin I need it too, though I now read the horrible stuff But I want the TV. Even though, I actually believed it a bit for a few hours on 24 February. Especially because I did. (I set a redline as “not one foot across the border into Kharkiv Oblast “ so that not only didn’t last, but was beyond my wildest nightmares, as someone who was privileged to know and love the city. But I do not forget the cleverness of those hours. It would be irresistible if we had a way of answering each evening with a point by point rebuttal on YouTube
I can request Moscow friends to send me daily media diaries, if they do it in rotation so as not to get more distressed. Would it be useful to blog that? They need a way to help other than “liking” the commentary of that large portion of their circle who have jobs abroad, sad they may never see their native land. But ok
In the old bad Cold War days the CIA, in addition to trying to poison Castro and such, at least put out the Current Digest of the Soviet Press in translation. But as Prof Katie Zhuravskaya wisely at the Paris School of Economics long ago, has shown, fascism turned to radio. Now it’s TV (and a review of arguments on social media too is needed,
As you said, Rachel, detail, photos and how you know when they are faked.
Thank you — and let’s work on getting this.
It seems to me that the opening sentence of the essay, “The long-term outcome of Putin’s bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine will depend on hard power (coercion, tanks and rockets versus Molotov cocktails and rifles) as well as soft power (winning hearts and minds at home and abroad),” really shows how little the author knew about the Ukrainian military or the fatal weaknesses of the Russian military at the time of writing. This illustrates the dangers of providing analysis with insufficient research. Putin undoubtedly had more military intelligence about the Ukrainian military than the author of this essay, but he likely discounted the information that he was given and his generals were too afraid to argue with him.
I miss Ruptly! That’s all I’m commenting,