Staunton, April 29 – Today, Vladimir Putin told an online meeting with leading French businessmen that if Europe under American pressure increases sanctions on Russia, Europeans will pay and only the Americans will benefit, and thus that any attempt by Europeans to isolate Russia will prove counterproductive.
Moscow social psychologist Aleksey Roshchin says that Putin’s message was directed “not so much at the Europeans as at the Russians” because the threat of new sanctions will only “intensify the fear of international isolation” among Russians,” something “which the authorities must remove” (ura.news/articles/1036282250).
“Russians don’t quite understand how much we depend on the West,” the psychologist says; “but there is a broad understanding that it is a bad thing to be an outcast.” They have seen their incomes fall and foreign products disappear from the shelves of Russian stores. And this is helping to shape their attitudes about the upcoming Duma elections.
The URA news agency notes that “there are no fresh publicly available sociological studies about the concerns of Russians about international isolation.” The last time one did appear, in 2018, 56 percent of Russians said they felt the country was isolated, the highest figure since such questions appeared in surveys.
But there is one indirect piece of evidence to support Roshchin’s contention. A just-completed VTsIOM poll found that Russians now rank worries about conflicts between Russia and other countries in fourth place among the things they say they worry about. Only a few months ago, that concern was far further down the list, at eighth place.