S Ovwata Onojieruo

Is Putin’s war actually unpopular in Russia

Earlier today, both Sputnik and Russia Today (RT) reported that over fifty thousand Russians held a rally in Moscow, in support of Referendum in the disputed regions of Donbass, and others. In the same vein the BBC, CNN and others based their report on the large number of persons fleeing Putin’s conscription policy as a result of the Russian-Ukraine crises. A major emphasis in the reporting of these events is the careful use of language by both sides of the divide, and appropriately constructed sentence usage.

Noticeably, while the BBC didn’t hesitate in inputting the words ‘war, fear,’ et al within the lines of their reporting, Sputnik and RT were more careful to use the word ‘special military operation’, highlighting rather the gains made so far, like the referendum in Donbass and other regions, and the volunteering of certain Russians in answer to Putin’s conscription call, even amongst the Political class.

The basic point of focus here is not on the Media coverage of the war in Ukraine, but rather on the mind and continued motivation behind Putin’s action.

Nominally, for every singular Political action, there exists grounds of support, platforms of outright rejection and hostility to the Political action taken, as well as grounds for indifference. In the case of Putin, if seemed quite a perspective that all these grounds merges into one but at the same time taking varying points. It may be hard to pinpoint that there is a gross dissatisfaction amongst Russians over the very fact of the war in Ukraine, in fact that dissatisfaction takes different forms;

Firstly there are those whose dissatisfaction is with the duration of time Russian military action has taken rather than the fact that Russia took a military action. Secondly, there is the dissatisfaction from the group who have felt that the Russian withdrawal from large areas of Ukraine, into just a consolidation on Eastern Ukraine was an unnecessary show of weakness. Thirdly there are the group who are dissatisfied with the very action of military Involvement in a crises rather than Political solutions; technically not because they take the side of Ukraine or the West, but because they have a distaste for military offensives and the loss of lives resulting from it. This goes on to point that Putin’s support base remains Russian Nationalists, who revel in the glory of an acclaimed good-old-days, ‘the era of the USSR’.

But on the contrary there is that strong opposition for everything Putin stands for within necessary layers of the Russian federation whose voices not only go unheard of, but who also lacks the Political standing to oppose Putin’s agenda. These distraughted individuals, lacking Political power sees fleeing the Russian federation as an only alternative. Putin’s appeal in his most recent speech was to that Nationalist sentiment, technically his appeal was to his base, and inasmuch as that base keep being fed with the reality of a collective enemy which is after the ‘Russian spirit’, as well as being show areas of Russian strength, further reinenforced by seeming wins and victories by the Russian side, no price would seem too high to pay in protecting the Russian motherland.

Technically, it becomes difficult to pinpoint what the outcome of the conflict would be, but it remains a lot more visibly obvious that there are large layers of pro-Russian sentiments in Eastern Ukraine as much as there are heavy pro-Ukrainian sentiments all over Ukraine and even in the West. However Putin’s aim undeniably, isn’t an appeal to those whom he may dismiss as internal dissidents, or external antagonists, rather it is to his support base, and the Nationalistic elements of Russian society.

About the Author
S Ovwata Onojieruo is a Theologian, Political Scientist and Philosopher, whose Research interest spans across the areas of Legal theory, Political Philosophy, Social Epistemology, International Politics and International Relations theory. He currently functions as a Post-graduate Researcher, and Tutorial assistant with the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and can be reached on twitter @OvwataS
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