Thursday, June 23, 2022

Three Months of Putin’s War have Changed How Russians See their Country and the World, Vilk Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 4 – Three months into Putin’s war in Ukraine, the views of Russians about their own country, its government and its military, about Ukraine, about Europe and the West and about China have changed, with more changes likely as the conflict grinds on in the coming months, Yevgeny Vilk says.

            Three months ago, Russians were confident that their army would win quickly but that hasn’t happened, the commentator says. They did not believe Ukraine was prepared to resist so heroically but now take that as a given. And they have lost confidence in their military and its political masters (

            When the invasion began, Vilk continues, Russians assumed the West would not be able to unite or act with dispatch. Both those assumptions have proved false. And they see that not only the West but many countries including the former Soviet republics view Ukraine as the likely winner and Russia the loser and want to be on the winning side.

            While committed to Ukraine and its fight, Europeans are divided between those in the east who want Kyiv to win a victory and those who want to end the fighting. The US is also divided, Vilk says; but it is trending in the direction of the former rather than the latter and appears likely to move further that way in the future.

            When the war began, many Russians assumed on the basis of Kremlin claims that China would back Moscow. While it is clear that China, like India and Brazil, doesn’t like the US very much, it, like the others, does not want to offend the US less it suffer as a result. That too may continue into the future.

            Given how radically Russian views have changed in the last three months, the commentator concludes, it won’t be a surprise if they change equally dramatically in the next three, quite possibly in ways that no one now is in a position to predict.

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