Russia: Putin ‘will not stop at Ukraine’ says Liz Truss
Support for the use of military force has dropped significantly since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. A poll from the Levada Center, conducted among 1,623 Russians across 50 regions from March 25 to March 31 2021, put support for the annexation at 86 percent. It also showed that 71 per cent of respondents did not see it as illegal.
But recent polling in light of the current crisis has shown that Mr Putin’s support has taken a hit.
A survey conducted by CNN showed that support for the use of military force against Ukraine to prevent it from joining NATO has dropped to 50 percent.
A quarter of the Russian population said it would be wrong, while 43 percent of those surveyed believe that military force would be wrong if it were used to “reunite Russia and Ukraine”.
Just over a third – 36 percent of those polled – would support this use of military force.
Meanwhile, a soon to be published Levada Center poll has shown that there is significantly less support for the recognition of independent Donbas “people’s republics” than for the annexation of Crimea.
Putin’s support in Russia appears to be crumbling
Support for the use of military force has dropped significantly since Russia’s annexation of Crimea
Around 45 percent of people support the move, with 40 percent being against it.
Earlier this week, Mr Putin sent Russian troops to the Donbas region of Ukraine in what was seen as an escalation of the conflict.
This came after he formally recognised two Russian-backed separatist-controlled regions of the country as independent.
Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner said the CNN poll demonstrates that the Russian public believes Ukraine joining NATO would be an “existential threat” to Russia.
Speaking to CNN, Mr Pozner said: “It speaks to the view that, should Ukraine become a NATO member, and should NATO forces be deployed on Russia’s doorstep, that would constitute an existential threat and therefore cannot be allowed.”
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Support for the use of military force against Ukraine to prevent it from joining NATO has dropped
75 per cent of the public think that Mr Putin will not use force on Ukraine
Meanwhile, Orysia Lutzevvch, head of the Ukraine Forum at UK think tank Chatham House told CNN that the Russian public sees Ukraine as a “crown jewel” that is currently “being stolen by NATO”.
She said: “Modern-day Russia has a syndrome of collapsing empires.
“The loss of these lands is presented as ‘historical injustice’ that should be rectified, including by force.
“Ukraine is viewed as a crown jewel that is ‘being stolen by NATO’.
“Tapping into old Soviet scaremongering of the US and NATO, Russians believe it is an aggressive bloc that is in the way of Russia-Ukrainian unity.”
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Ukraine vs. Russia
However, the poll also revealed that just 13 per cent of Russians believe that military force will actually be used.
75 per cent of the public think that Mr Putin will not use force on Ukraine.
Speaking about this statistic, Mr Pozner said: “The reason why 75 percent of Russians think Russia will not invade Ukraine is simply because of what they read in their newspapers and see on their TV.
“There is basically no hysteria, no beating of the war drum, a consistent message that we do not want a war and will not start one.
He added: “Russians know what Western leaders are saying. Their statements are widely featured in the media.
“The general feeling is that the West in fact wants Russia to attack Ukraine because that would be to the West’s advantage, it is goading Russia to attack.
70 percent of people in Ukraine believed it would be wrong for Russia to use military force
“They are also of the opinion that, while Ukraine could not stand up to an all-out Russian invasion, Russia would lose much more from that than any military victory would win.”
Ms Lutsevych agreed, saying this statistic is a result of “how Russian state-controlled media and disinformation is shaping an alternative reality for the Russian population.”
She added: “Inside Russia the West is presented as a villain that is abusing Ukraine to undermine Russia’s greatness.
“In the event of Russian military aggression, Russia will be portrayed as fighting the US and NATO forces, and not killing its Slavic brothers.”
The CNN poll spoke to more than 2,000 Russians and Ukrainians between February 7 and February 15.
It found that 70 percent of people in Ukraine believed it would be wrong for Russia to use military force to prevent the country from joining NATO.
73 percent said it would be wrong for Russia to use force to unite the two countries.