The taking of Mariupol was widely covered in the mainstream Russian media as a major step forward. The domestic political rhetoric has fully shifted to describing the military operation as being intended to free Donbas.
Category: Politics Monthly
The Levada Center polls indicate a fall in support for both the military operation and for the President and government overall. However, 74% say that they have some level of support and 19% say that they do not support it in any way.
Polls conducted in mid-March indicate that President Putin’s approval rating jumped, as has that of politicians who have not been involved in the operation. The President’s approval rating is 83%, near its all-time highs.
The balance of power in the elite has shifted towards the security elite since the protests of 2011-12. President Putin chose to rely more and more on the siloviki (people of power) and listened less and less to the economic bloc which pointed out the economic costs of increasingly illiberal policies.
The big theme in 2021 was control of public politics ahead of the next Presidential elections in 2024. There was a clampdown on opposition press and political activities to eliminate the risk of a color revolution.
Russia has built up a large military force near its border with Ukraine. The catalyst was Ukraine’s use of drones in the separatist territories but there are other underlying issues, including Moscow’s
frustration with NATO expansion and actions.
Russia has withdrawn its representation at NATO in Brussels and told NATO to close its Moscow office. This is a reflection of Moscow’s frustration at NATO actions close to its western borders and support for Ukraine.