Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Stepan Stepanenko, Director of Forward Strategy, said recent polls conducted by the Levada Center indicate that more than 70 percent of Russians still support the war, if it were to commence today.
He stressed that while Putin may have initiated the conflict, it is now perceived by many Russians as “Russia’s war,” with Russian people shouldering responsibility for his actions.
He said: “Russians are still wholeheartedly behind Putin and the war in Ukraine. This is not Putin’s war. It is Russia’s war.”
“Putin started it but every Russian citizen is responsible for bringing him to power, keeping him in power, and allowing him to invade Georgia, murder British citizens on UK soil, in the Litvinenko case and in Salisbury, invading Ukraine in 2014 and for the large scale invasion of 2022.”
Dr Stepanenko noted that while some express weariness in supporting Ukraine and countering Russian aggression, there are dedicated individuals who remain committed to the cause.
These include the Ukrainian people and international volunteers who have joined the fight against Russian forces.
He added: “Today we hear comments that Europe, the UK and the US are tired of supporting Ukraine and preventing Russian aggression and the genocide of Ukrainians. But there are those who are not tired and will see the job done.
“These are the people of Ukraine and the thousands of international volunteers, including UK citizens, who fight against the Russian invaders and, sadly, die for the freedom of the Ukrainian people and our freedom to enjoy a world free of tyranny.
“As the war is set to reach its third year, we need to ask ourselves how NATO has allowed this to happen?
“We have all witnessed Russian human rights violations and war crimes, we have seen explosions in Romania, a NATO state, and we have had two NATO citizens killed in Poland as the direct result of Russia’s actions, we know of a Russian attack on a British plane in international airspace, nearly killing the 30 crew on board. When will the red line be crossed that would allow NATO states, including the UK, to take direct action?
“Despite the help provided to Ukraine, we are witnessing the impotence of NATO leaders when it comes to standing up to the threat that the alliance was created to defend from.”
Dr Stepanenko’s comments come as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine underscored the gravity of the ongoing conflict and its implications for global stability.
Speaking to CBS News, he called on the world to make a choice between stopping Putin’s aggression and the potential outbreak of a world war.
Zelensky expressed his concern that Russian society, through elections and continued support for Putin, has contributed to the current situation. He likened Putin’s actions to raising a “second Hitler” and stressed the urgency of preventing further escalation.
Zelensky reiterated that Ukraine is defending not only its own freedom but the values of the entire world.
He stressed that the Ukrainian people are paying a steep price in the battle against a nuclear-armed state, warning that the consequences of Ukraine’s fall could be dire. He urged the international community to consider the broader implications, including the threat to Poland and the potential for a Third World War.
He said: “The whole world [has to] decide whether we want to stop Putin, or whether we want to start the beginning of a world war. We can’t change Putin. Russian society has [lost] the respect of the world.
“They elected him and re-elected him and raised a second Hitler. They did this. We cannot go back in time. But we can stop it here.”
He added: “We’re defending the values of the whole world. And these are Ukrainian people who are paying the highest price. We are truly fighting for our freedom, we are dying. We are not fiction, we are not a book. We are fighting for real with a nuclear state that threatens to destroy the world.
“If Ukraine falls, what will happen in ten years? Just think about it. If [the Russians] reach Poland, what’s next? A Third World War?”