Staunton, Nov. 11 – A new Levada Center poll showing that nearly three-quarters of all Russians would support a decision by Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine as long as Russia retained control of at least some of the territories it has seized has attracted widespread attention, Oleksandr Shulga says.
But that set of views is no surprise, the Ukrainian sociologist says. His Institute for Conflict Studies and Analysis of Russia has found responses among Russians since the war began (moscowtimes.ru/2023/11/09/rossiyane-podderzhali-bi-okonchanie-voini-hot-zavtra-eto-davno-ne-novost-novost-v-drugom-a112741 and ikar-thinktank.org/ru/explorations/14).
What is much more significant, he suggests, is that Russians will go along and support virtually any decision Putin makes on Ukraine as long as they feel their country got something out of it. Consequently, it is a mistake to think that Russian attitudes act as a constraint on what the Kremlin leader will do.
Neither a massive desire for the war to end nor the aspirations of some that Putin adopt an even harsher line are going to be decisive in his calculations, Smulga says. Neither of these factors is that important in his calculations about the conflict, and those in Russia, Ukraine and the West who think so are deceiving themselves.
Despite grumbling on both sides of the issue, he continues, the Russian people will support post facto whatever Putin chooses to do, a reality that must be recognized and that gives him far more room to maneuver than many think he has, either to end the war or to expand it beyond its current level.