A new Levada Center survey shows that the percentage of Russians who think the country is on the right track has risen since the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine (from 50% to 68%), while the share who think otherwise has fallen from (39% to 22%), Aleksey Levinson, the center’s head of sociocultural research says.
This pattern should not have come as a surprise, he says, and does not reflect the success of regime propaganda. Instead, it is because most Russians see the war as establishing or at least confirming the place of Russia in the world that they would like to see, one in which the rest of the world fears Russia and thus respects it.
The current conflict, Russians feel, “is not about defeating America and then conquering or destroying it. Rather, they believe it has a different goal, one in which America needs to feel and acknowledge that Russia is its equal, not only in military strength but most important equal in status as a major world power.”
The sociologist says that in their mind, the US response confirms their hopes and expectations. The Americans have “picked up the gauntlet but are behaving with restraint because they fear Russia and Putin and, in this way, views Russians as equals.” Russian military success is less significant here than the American response.
How long such attitudes will last is unclear, especially if Russia faces significant defeats; “but for now, Russians are collectively experiencing a feeling of satisfaction that the world has been put into the order they have long wanted. Given euphoria about that, no one is thinking about how the country or his family will survive … People are happy and positive.”
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