This article is the English version of Tatiana Kastouéva-Jean,
« Un an de guerre en Ukraine : où en sont les Russes ? », published in Politique étrangère, Vol. 88, Issue 1, 2023.
“ We are at war and the country is plunged into total unconsciousness of events”: such was the assessment of the Russian writer Victor Erofeyev in the months following the invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, after the initial shock, the majority of Russians have continued to go about their lives as if it were in fact a “special military operation” with limited scope, like the intervention in Syria in 2015. Ukrainians’ suffering has left them largely indifferent, which has led to anger, and even hatred, on the part of the invaded nation toward the Russian people as a whole.
he declaration of partial mobilization, at the end of September 2022, further shook the Russian population, as it directly affected the families of men in the age bracket that was called up. While this mobilization caused hundreds of thousands of men to immediately flee abroad, it nevertheless was not the decisive turn toward mass protest against the war that it could have been. Out of support, fear, or fatalism, public expressions of discontent have essentially focused on the chaotic, arbitrary nature of mobilizations, or the absence of equipment and training for those called up and sent to the front.
he proportion of Russians who support the “special military operation” has remained stable since February 2022, varying between 70 and 80 percent from survey to survey—although these surveys should be viewed with caution, as in any authoritarian regime. Interviewed in public or in private, many Russians say they are convinced that Vladimir Putin’s initial decision was inevitable, provoked, or necessary…
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