Russia’s President rolled the dice with his Ukraine invasion. Domestic support, currently at high levels, is about to wane and his options will soon narrow.

Support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ongoing full-scale war against Ukraine, according to sociological data, remains quite high. If we are to believe the pro-government sociological centers, his approval ratings have recently increased by a few percentage points. However, the Kremlin does not have enough resources to maintain such high ratings, Kseniya Kirillova writes in Europe’s Edge. 

Independent sociologists agree that at least two-thirds (according to some sources, three-quarters) of Russians support the war (although some warn that these data cannot be completely reliable, because people are afraid to say what they think, for fear of criminal prosecution.)

Whatever level of acceptance state propaganda generates, it is clear that this percentage will begin to decline as the Russian standard of living worsens and military losses increase. Members of the Russian Anti-War Committee told the author of this article that sociologists see growing disillusionment with the so-called “special military operation” even in rural areas and small towns, where support for the war has traditionally been higher than in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The reason is that news about the deaths of young men from these areas spreads much faster in “compact” societies, where people personally know each other.

At the same time, Putin has diminishing resources left to strengthen his grip on power. Traditionally, the means of rallying Russians around a national leader has been to reinforce the idea of an external threat, that is, to create a constant feeling that Russia is surrounded by enemies. It’s this propaganda narrative that the authorities have successfully used for at least the last eight years, since Putin launched his first war of aggression against Ukraine. Even six months before the second invasion, 83% of the country’s population believed that Russia was surrounded by enemies, according to the Levada Center.

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