Putin's approval polls before and after the start of Russia's war against Ukraine in February 2014. (Source: "Putin. War" Report, published May-2015 at OpenRussia.org)
An investigative report by Russian opposition activists that includes data compiled by the opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered next to the Kremlin in February this year, asserts that the reason Vladimir Putin started his aggression against Ukraine was his sliding popularity ratings and a demonstrated growing impotence of the Kremlin’s traditional political techniques (i.e. increasing government salaries and benefits) to improve his rating above 40-45%.
As shown in the graphic, the start of Russian aggression in February 2014 (the Anschluss of the Crimean Peninsula) boosted Putin’s rating from 45% to 58% just in one month, while the continued combat in the Donbas region of Ukraine kept his popularity steadily rising through 74% in March 2015.
The full 64-page report (in Russian), which documents proof of the Russian Federation’s responsibility for the war, can be accessed at the Open Russia news website.