Staunton, Oct. 1 – After Vladimir Putin annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, there was a massive outpouring of Russian popular support for his action. But this time, when he has moved to annex four other Ukrainian regions, there has been little; and efforts by the authorities to whip up a show of enthusiasm have generally failed.
The Barents Observer, for example, reports that when the authorities in the military city of Arkhangelsk decided to hold a concert in support of Putin’s latest action, “only about 100 people showed up — and many of those were organizers consisting of local officials and the United Russia Party” (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/obshchestvennost/2022/10/v-arhangelske-hotel-otmetit-anneksiyu-ukrainskih-zemel-na-prazdnik-prishli).
Officials did their best to get people excited. Rim Kalimullin, deputy head of the city council there, declared that Russia is “now fighting with 49 countries which are using all kinds of modern weapons against us. But we are not afraid of them because Russia is a great country,” a statement that fell on skeptical ears (pomorie.ru/2022/09/29/63347ef1ff04fe5ebc6fcf12.html).
One woman posted on social media that the entire event was “nothing but a show for the Z Patriots,” and another wanted to know why the organizers were sitting “warm and comfortable” in Arkhangelsk rater than “dying for the country” at the frontlines (https://vk.com/wall-161193561_154665and vk.com/wall-161193561_154665).
Given how central Putin has made the abolition of Ukraine through the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory, such attitudes suggest that the Kremlin leader has far less backing for his criminal enterprise now than he did in the past. Instead, Russians see the war as anything but theirs and apparently feel that its advocates at home should be doing the fighting.
Window on Eurasia — New Series