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Do Russians support the invasion? You won't like the answer.

Putin is an evil bastard. Sorry a very "shrewd" evil bastard who knows how to manipulate public opinion at home with state controlled media. Even as Western sanctions cause economic hardship for the Russian populace, Putin popularity soars.

As I've been trumpeting for weeks, the sanction aren't working and won't work in deterring Putin.

PS. In China Xi Jinping will certainly push Putin to "wrap it up" and forge a exit where Putin gets Russian control of Ukraine's separatist regions and assurances it won't join NATO or the European Union. Meanwhile, the Chinese populist also supports the invasion. China is Russia's most important client to purchase Russian energy. Anyone who tells you the entire world is behind the Ukraine is ignoring the "world" that really counts to Putin.

In Rural Russia, Locals Blame the West for Conflict in Ukraine, Back Putin

‘I support everything that is for victory and for Putin,’ one villager said

By Ann M. Simmons , WSJ

March 17, 2022 2:29 pm ET

TORZHOK, Russia—More than a hundred cars, many festooned with Russian flags and plastered with stickers proclaiming “For Russia! For Victory!” converged on the main square of this small town in a show of support of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

“We support our army. We support our government. We are united behind our state,” said Dmitry Serov, 35, a driving instructor and Torzhok native who was one of the organizers of the weekend rally.

Those sentiments are widely shared among Russians across the country who believe Moscow’s military action in Ukraine is justified, that the West is to blame for provoking the conflict and that the Russian people are being unfairly targeted with international sanctions.

Mr. Putin has said that the military operation is necessary to cleanse Ukraine of anti-Russian nationalists he says have corrupted the country’s leadership with the help of the U.S., and to defend Russians whose culture, language and very existence is under attack.

Moscow’s state media, including influential television broadcasts, the main source of news for most Russians, daily reinforce the Kremlin’s stance. And it is widely embraced in places like Torzhok and the villages nearby, far from big city Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russian forces are bombarding Ukrainian cities and the government in Kyiv says thousands of civilians have been killed. More than three million people have fled the conflict, seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Russia’s Defense Ministry says it doesn’t target civilian infrastructure, only military objectives.

“We had no alternative for self-defense, for ensuring Russia’s security, to this special military operation,” Mr. Putin said in televised remarks Wednesday. “Our fellows—soldiers and officers—are displaying courage and heroism and are doing all they can to avoid civilian losses in Ukrainian cities.”

Mr. Putin has promised Russians that the government will help them withstand economic difficulties from international sanctions imposed since the start of the conflict—something he has said would be an “unconditional priority” for his government.

A Russian law enacted last week makes it a crime to refer to Russia’s military moves in Ukraine as an invasion or war. Mr. Putin uses the term “special military operation.” The law forbids citing Russian casualty figures from any source other than the country’s Defense Ministry. People convicted of violating the law can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Mr. Serov, a member of the Russian Night Wolves motorcycle club, whose bikers led a convoy of cars into Torzhok from the nearby farming village Mirny, said Russian troops were trying to end the suffering of fellow Russians in Ukraine.

He said the Night Wolves have sent medicine, clothes and children’s toys to Russian residents of Donbas. On the eve of the Russian move into Ukraine, Mr. Putin recognized the independence of two Russian-controlled statelets carved out of Ukrainian territory in the Donbas area after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

“We’re not indifferent to what’s happening,” Mr. Serov said. “So, you shouldn’t think we are barbarians who are carrying sticks and beating everyone. We are just like you.”


How will support from Russian citizens have an impact on the war in Ukraine? Join the conversation below.

Lyudmila Vizhulina, who stood on the sidewalk with neighbors and co-workers waiting for the convoy to depart Mirny, said it was a mystery to her why there is fighting. “Why does Ukraine hate us so? We are all Slavic people,” she said.

“Russians have always been for peace,” she said. “The warmongering is coming from the West. They don’t want Russia to be a strong state.”

Ms. Vizhulina said Mr. Putin has built Russia into a strong and stable place since he came to power more than 20 years ago. The 60-year-old, who looks after children at a community club in the village, listed some of her village’s attributes, including a kindergarten, a high school, a football field and a clinic.

Dmitry Peskov, a 48-year-old tractor driver at Mirny’s collective farm—a holdover from the Soviet era—pulled his daughter toward the front of a crowd that gathered near a military memorial so they could listen to participants in the rally make declarations in support of Mr. Putin and Russia’s actions.

“I support everything that is for victory and for Putin,” he said. “He loves our people and people love him. Because of him, I have my job, my tractor.”

In the region of Tver, where the village of Mirny and town of Torzhok are located, government statistics show that 75% of residents voted for Mr. Putin in the 2018 presidential election and more than 70% supported 2020 amendments to the constitution that allow him to stay in power until 2036.

When the drivers from Mirny arrived in Torzhok, they joined with others and positioned themselves to form the letter Z that has come to symbolize support for Russia’s military action in Ukraine. The town’s acting Mayor Sergei Kulagin was there to greet them.

“The people wanted this and we are a people power,” he said.

Mr. Kulagin played down the impact of Western companies’ withdrawing from Russia.

“It’s in the West that everything is getting worse,” he said, echoing the narrative of Russian state media. “Here, our production and manufacturing is strengthening. Support for families is increasing. And we are Russians. It means we become more united and difficulties make us even tougher.”

The average monthly salary in Torzhok, a town of some 43,000 people, is 40,000 rubles. That is currently equivalent to about $390.

To cushion any impact on Russians of international sanctions, Mr. Putin has announced a new allowance for low-income families with children aged 8 to 16. Other state subsidies are already being offered to pregnant women and single-headed households, while pensions and social benefits are on tap to rise.

Guide Tatyana Morozova, recounted how the town stood less than 20 miles from the front line during World War II, was heavily bombed, but was never taken by the Germans.

Ms. Morozova said most people support the Russian government’s military operations in Ukraine, because the goal, she believes, is to bring peace.

Outside, near the square, Sergei Ivanov unfurled a large blue flag honoring the Union of Paratroopers of Russia. “It’s difficult for our Russian brothers now,” Mr. Ivanov, 28, said. “They are defending us and we support them and our president and the important decision he made.”

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