Staunton, Sept. 14 – Ever more Russians recognize that Putin’s army in Ukraine has suffered a serious defeat and are speaking out about it, but there are two very different groups who are doing so, those who oppose the war as such and those who oppose the way it is being conducted and believe Moscow must do even more to ensure victory.
While one wishes that the first were the dominant trend in Russian public opinion, that is not the case. It is far smaller. Instead, what the Western media are identifying as “critics” of Putin’s war are doing so from the other side. They want Russia to expand its war against Ukraine by mobilizing more troops and engaging in even more aggressive behavior.
That may change; but at present, this criticism may be extremely useful to Putin and his commitment to destroying Ukraine. He can and almost certainly will likely try to use it to expand his war rather than end it, pointing out that there is a groundswell for doing more rather than any upsurge in opposition to the war as such.
Indeed, the Kremlin leader may see this as something required not only to achieve his goals in Ukraine but also to shore up his standing at home among those who matter most to his power, the force structures who perhaps alone are in a position to challenge his power and who want a different and more aggressive policy in Ukraine with or without him.