Friday, November 3, 2023

To Keep Power, Putin Must Find Alternative to ‘Special Military Operation’ Narrative, El Murid Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 1 – The latest Levada Center surveys show that those Russians clearly opposed to the war in Ukraine are beginning to outnumber those who are equally clearly supporters of continuing it and now almost equal to the number of those without a firm position about the conflict, Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name “El Murid,” says.

This means, he says, that “a politician who places a bet on ending the special military operation could suddenly receive massive and perhaps effective support” while one who continues to call for war to a victorioius conclusion could just as suddenly be deprived of his base in the population (

And that in turn suggests that Russia is “headed straight towards a situation like that of 1917 when an unpopular war ‘washed away’ the social base on which the tsarist and then the provision governments relied” and led the people to shift their loyalties to those who above all else called for ending the war.

The dynamics of such a shift are not yet clear, “but one can suggest that the regime has no more than a year to wrap up the special operation or alternatively sharply increase terror,” something it may not have the resources to do and that may not work in the ways the regime intends, El Murid says.

Alternatively and more likely, the regime may try to save itself not by increasing terror alone but by shifting from one crisis to another and thus changing the narrative it offers the Russian population. Such a shift could involve the triggering of ethnic and religious pogroms at home or the launch of yet another aggressive war abroad.

Because a new foreign war would carry with it the risks that the Ukrainian conflict has already highlighted, the Kremlin almost certainly will focus on the use of the image of domestic “enemies” and among those the regime will try to portray as such, Russian history strongly suggests, the Jews are almost certain to be among the most prominent. 

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