Over at Instapundit, Stephen Green links to an Axios piece that really is just a recitation of a release from the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. The gist is that the economic sanctions are simply pushing the people of Russia to support Putin.
While the story he links does bring up a couple of caveats, it really downplays them with an effectively anonymous source (single). The summation of the story that any threat to Putin is years away is ludicrous.
Now, Stephen does make a good point that the Russian people are used to suffering hardship in the face of enemies. That is part of the Slavophile prototype and of propaganda for most of a century now. Stephen has been against sanctions against the Russian people from the start, and he has made some good points. The problem is, however, that sanctions against the government, as well as its leaders, are going to hit the people to some extent or another.
Sad to say, there are some good reasons to do so, to inflict pain on the people via sanctions. It can drive unrest, it can get some to question things, and it can force other changes. Will it in this case? Maybe.
Keep in mind the discussion a while back on the differences in the different generations. The younger generation does not view Russia and the world in the same way as the older/oldest generation. They are focused on career, improving their lives, and are not bound to the old models. Look at the (hundreds of) thousands of professionals who fled Russia since this began. The brain drain is enormous, and I invite you to go back and re-watch the videos I linked on Saturday that look at demographics.
Also, understand that two other factors tie into the pseudo-anonymous source that is supposedly a journalist. One, most journalists in Russia are as much state controlled as they ever were in the Soviet era. You toe the line, or else. Or else can be fleeing the country as the very brave protester/journalist who interrupted a broadcast did, or you can take a bullet to the back of the head like Anna Politkovskaya.
Two, she’s understating that dissent is crushed. People at any and all levels are scared to say anything that could be taken as not supporting the war. Or Vladimir. Or the system. You get the picture. Even the mildest of dissent gets you ostracized, or beaten. Get into real criticism, and you are likely to need a doctor, a new job, and/or a way out of the country. Keep at it, and you are dead.
The idea that anyone would trust a “journalist” or a researcher in a state-controlled institution and give them open and honest answers (even off the record) is about zero. Maybe to someone who is trusted, but even then caution is the watchword.
So, I take any “man on the street” things like this with a tun of salt, not a grain. The odds of it being propaganda/disinformatzia is almost 100 percent. Are there people who do feel as portrayed? You bet your bippie. Are there people who blame Putin and the oligarchs for the pain? Again, you bet your bippie. Are you going to find many/any of them stupid enough to say it out loud? No.
So, do I wish there were a way to punish Vladimir et al without inflicting pain on the Russian people (who I have found overall to be rather nice and even fun, though they have an outlook on life that is very different)? Yes. Does it exist? No. Will the pain turn the screws? Maybe. Is the release from the MSSES to be trusted or taken at face value? No.
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