In or outside Russia, the vast majority of Russian nationals have not denounced the war
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its one-year anniversary, the Russian Federation has incurred tremendous losses. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence states that nearly 150,000 Russian soldiers have died, and many more have been wounded. In addition, tens of billions of dollars of Russian military hardware have been destroyed. On top of these losses, the international community has imposed strict sanctions on the Russian Federation to punish it for its invasion of Ukraine. Experts predict that Russia has lost hundreds of billions of dollars due to the war, and the Russian economy has declined.
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Despite these tremendous losses, most of the Russian population supports the war. According to a recent UnHerd article, roughly “75 per cent of Russians approve of the war.” Few have denounced their government for the military incursion into Ukraine. Instead, the Russian population condoned the invasion. In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has remained high throughout the war. This information is staggering.
Some will point to the Russian propaganda machine, arguing that disinformation and misinformation have negatively impacted the perception of the war in Russia. But this is unlikely to be the case. According to the World Bank, the population of the Russian Federation is 143 million. It is hard to believe that every citizen has been impacted by Russian propaganda. Misinformation or not, most Russians do not think that Ukraine should be an independent country. They do not believe in Ukrainian ethnicity or the Ukrainian language. Instead, the majority of Russians believe that the country of Ukraine, its people, and its language are a false construct. Instead, they think that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.”
When the full-scale invasion began, others argued that the Russian population was being sheltered from the events occurring during the war. But as the war progresses, it has become harder to ignore the facts about the Russian invasion. Open-source information, and readily available news, on Russian atrocities committed in Ukraine, have become widely available. Videos, images, and reports of these events have circulated through social media, television, and newspapers. Despite this irrefutable evidence, Russian state media has disregarded these points.
Few in Russia have also denounced the war. When the invasion initially began, small bands of Russian citizens protested their government, and they condemned the war. Russian police instantly detained these demonstrators, and the government quickly cracked down on protests. According to reports, the protesters only totalled a few thousand individuals. Since then, the protests have subsided.
In comparison, nearly one million military-aged men fled the country when the Russian government announced a partial mobilization in September 2022. They relocated to neighbouring countries such as Georgia, Kazakhstan, and the Caucasus. But as these individuals reached their new destinations, they did not denounce the war. This suggests that the large migration of military-aged men was not in protest of the war being committed by Russia. Instead, it suggests that these men fled because they did not want to fight in the war. This is an important distinction.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens have left the country since the war began. During the war, Russia’s economy shrunk, and it lost hundreds of billions of dollars due to international sanctions. Thousands of foreign companies also paused or terminated their business operations in Russia. Many Russians have lost their jobs, global inflation has made the price of goods more expensive in Russia, and the standard of living in Russia has significantly declined. As a result, many educated Russians have looked to move abroad. But as they have settled in their new homes, they have not denounced the war. In other words, their actions suggest that they are leaving the Russian Federation to enhance their quality of living, not to protest the decisions made by their government.
In short, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had detrimental effects on Russia. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have been killed, and the Russian Federation has lost billions of dollars. Despite these losses, the majority of Russian citizens continue to support the invasion. This suggests that they have learned nothing during the first year of this horrific and brutal war. There is nothing to suggest that this will change. It is time to understand and realise this fact.
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