“Today, the idea of restoring a common state has been reduced to naught after the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbass,” at least with regard to Ukraine but to the extent one can judge from the limited attention this issue has received to Belarus as well. When Kremlin propaganda eases, Russians recognize that the Russians and Ukrainians are different peoples and should have different fates and different states with their own borders.”
“If the idea of open borders but independent states was popular,” Gudkov continues, today, the popularity of closed borders with customs and border controls has gained in popularity. Today, the understanding that the empire will not be restored has been strengthened,” again among Russians with regard to Ukraine.
Four, Russian attitudes about Belarus are less clear; but it is certain that Russians see the Belarusians are much closer to them than the Ukrainians are. In Gudkov’s own opinion, if Russia were in some unlikely event to invade, “there would not be much resistance” on the part of the Belarusians.
Five, the impact of Russian attitudes on the Kremlin’s foreign policy is limited. Under Putin, Russia’s “foreign policy is conducted as a special operation, prepared in secret and there is no broad public discussion of it. That in turn means that the shift in Russian attitudes about Belarus and Ukraine will have less of an impact than many might think.