Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to boost his popularity by invading Ukraine. According to the Russian expert Ulrich Schmid, this procedure can have the opposite effect.
Schmid, how far can Putin score domestically with his actions?
I can imagine that Putin misjudged the popularity of this measure in Ukraine. There are many Russian families with Ukrainian grandparents. There are close family ties between Russia and Ukraine. It is certainly a sensitive issue, especially when there are fatalities in the beginning and the situation worsens.
Who supports Putin’s plans?
At most, Putin can score points by working among Russia’s ultra-nationalist and conservative citizens. Putin has already largely lost the educated elite in the cities, especially in Moscow and Perrysburg. The Kremlin is happy when these people do not take to the streets to protest.
Then the situation is not comparable to the annexation of Crimea?
This is clearly a very different situation than it was eight years ago. At that time the whole country was in a cheerful mood. Even the fiercest opposition leaders found themselves in trouble. For example, Alexei Navalny, Who just got a new prison sentenceInfrared. After the annexation of Crimea, Navalny also could not make a clear statement that the annexation had been carried out illegally.
Are there internal problems that Putin wants to divert attention from?
Ulrich Schmid is Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. He is a researcher on politics and media in Russia and nationalism in Eastern Europe.
Its popularity is declining. Admittedly, it still has very good approval rates of around 60 percent by Western European standards. Popularity has fallen from 90 percent since the annexation of Crimea. Pension reform in 2017 was particularly problematic, and met with a great deal of resistance.
Does Putin now risk losing even more popularity?
I can imagine that Putin and his entourage have pushed themselves into a very difficult situation by their actions. Above all, it is a change of course. Just a week ago, Foreign Ministers Lavrov and Putin themselves said that there was no alternative to the Minsk process, and now they ended it by force themselves.
Is there a way to get back to Putin?
In my opinion, the current situation will remain the same for the next few years. I do not believe that the so-called Russian peacekeepers now stationed in the two self-proclaimed People’s Republics will reach foreign lands. This would start a massive fire.
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