‘Why should Russian taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?’

Left: Hitler announces the Anschluss of Austria on the Heldenplatz, Vienna, Austria on 15 March 1938. (Image: Wikipedia) Right: Putin speaking in occupied Sevastopol to celebrate 18 March 2014 anschluss of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine conducted by Russian military and special forces. May 9, 2014 (Image: kremlin.ru)

Left: Hitler announces the Anschluss of Austria on the Heldenplatz, Vienna, Austria on 15 March 1938. (Image: Wikipedia)

Right: Putin speaking in occupied Sevastopol to celebrate 18 March 2014 anschluss of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine conducted by Russian military and special forces. May 9, 2014 (Image: kremlin.ru) 

Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

Eight days ago, US Secretary of State posed a rhetorical question to his G-7 counterparts, “Why should US taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” There are both compelling reasons why they should be and even more why the real question is why US citizens should be.

But when people, be they senior officials or ordinary citizens, begin asking questions like that, it is a clear indication that they are increasingly focusing on themselves rather than on broader issues and are tired of bearing the burdens that the situation or their leaders have demanded.

That makes a poll result from the Russian Federation, the country which has invaded Ukraine, especially interesting, because it suggests that Russian taxpayers are beginning to define the Ukrainian issue in much the same way Secretary Tillerson has. That is, they are asking why they should be interested in Ukraine if it is taking money away from them.

According to the Levada Center, Russians still view the Anschluss of Crimea positively and dismiss Western criticism of it as a violation of international law. But it also found that 41 percent believe that the Kremlin has cut spending on education, healthcare, wages and pensions to finance the annexation, an indication of a softening of support for “Crimea is Ours.”

Even more significant, the survey recorded that only 24 percent said that they believe that the Russian authorities were acting correctly in sending money to Crimea at a time when there are cutbacks on education, healthcare and other social needs in the Russian Federation as well. And roughly a third said that the authorities had made a mistake in doing so.

Obviously, given that Russia is a dictatorship rather than a democracy, such popular attitudes are not going to translate immediately into policy changes by the Kremlin. But they suggest that ever more Russians are suffering from what might be called “Ukraine fatigue” and that that the Kremlin to maintain its public standing may have to take that into consideration.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Alex George

    This is not surprising – why should the Russian people care about Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, when all it has brought them is poverty, lost sons and unemployment?

    They can’t eat Crimea.

    The true support for Putin’s wars is probably much lower than this, in reality – Russian people learn from an early age not to criticise leadership.

    • RedSquareMaidan

      And the Russian Fake News machine has convinced most of the citizens that Donbas and Crimea (and South Ossetia and Abkhasia earlier) asked for protection and absorbtion.

    • veth
    • Dagwood Bumstead

      If nothing else, Dwarstan’s financial support for the so-called LNR and DNR has been cut as Dwarfstan slowly but surely runs out of $$$ and rubbles:

      http://zik.ua/en/news/2017/04/20/russia_cutting_funding_for_selfproclaimed_donbas_republics__tymchuk_1083527

      I wonder how Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky are going to explain THIS to the inhabitants of the terrorist enclaves. They have been claiming that Dwarfstan would offer them a bright future, that Pedo Putolini would prop them up no matter what, that Dwarfstanians would do anything for their ethnic brothers and sisters etc etc. The rhetoric doesn’t match reality, however.

    • Tony

      Funny thing is, despite paying about 1-2% lost GDP for Crimea, they still prefer Turkey or Sochi for holidays.
      The russian is an eternally stupid creature, his fate is to forever repeat actions that keep him poor.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        The Dwarfstanians that can afford it go to Turkey or Egypt; those that do go to the Crimea are largely civil servants who are “encouraged” by their superiors to go there. But despite the “encouragement” and huge subsidies from Moscow tourism still hasn’t recovered and is nowhere near pre-invasion levels.