I’ve been talking to a number of acquaintances in Russia

These are well-educated professionals who speak English fluently, many of whom have lived/worked in the US/Europe. Some are highly critical of Putin, and many were very much opposed to the SMO.

Some observations.

They are universally shocked at the racist Russophobia, from Europe especially. “I thought they were our friends/partners!” is a common complaint.

They don’t understand why Europe destroyed its own economy with the sanctions. (There’s quite a bit of schadenfreude over that.)

They don’t understand why the Germans are not reacting to the Nord Stream terrorist attack. They see it as self-evident that the Americans did it—an act of war by one of Germany’s closest ally.

They have zero trust in the Europeans—because of the Russophobia and revelations.

Hollande and Merkel have publicly bragged about how the Minsk agreements were entered into to buy time to arm Kiev.

This has had a huge impact on them.

So they won’t accept any negotiations or ceasefire. They all think Russia would be played for fools again by the West.

Even the “doves” believe that the conflict can only end in total victory, i.e. complete military occupation of Ukraine.

They don’t look forward to this—but they believe it is the only solution to guarantee Russian safety.

They all view this conflict as a Russia vs. NATO war. And they all believe this war will last for years.

There is a palpable sense of determination and *relief* that they too—like their grandfathers before—are involved in an existential war for the survival of their nation.

They one and all despise the Russians who fled to Europe, Israel and Georgia.

They view them as fair-weather friends at best—traitors at worst. They all made it clear that they would not be welcomed back at the end of this conflict.

Even the “doves” respect Putin, and they laugh at the idea of “regime change in Russia”.

The principal criticism of Putin is that he’s been too gentle, too patient. Many (not all) would prefer a scorched earth, total war campaign, specifically targeting the Kiev leadership.

All in all, they are satisfied with their leadership. Lavrov was universally praised, Peskov the one least respected. Shoigu, Gerasimov and Surovikin were all endorsed, though they all took some criticism, mostly because they think the war is going too slowly.

Interestingly, I sensed a gnawing anxiety over Russia’s economy, which seems to be going so well—as if it’s too good to be true.

The 2015 sanctions nearly broke their economy—but now, with even worse sanctions, none are experiencing a loss of standard of living.

They seem to have lost their respect, admiration—and fear—of the West. Certainly their trust. They all believe that “human rights”, “democracy”, etc. are empty platitudes the West uses to get its way.

They see the West as a paper tiger, run by fools and degenerates.

This is inevitably a very biased selection of opinions: Highly educated, well traveled, Western-oriented, fairly well-to-do people aged 27–60.

So imagine how much more conservative Russian working class people’s opinions would be.

Food for thought.

Addendum: Yes, I forgot to include this point, which is true of popular sentiment in Russia.

Originally tweeted by Gonzalo Lira (@GonzaloLira1968) on February 16, 2023.

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