The impact on Russia of its war against Ukraine is heavier than President Vladimir Putin anticipated, both in terms of military losses and economic isolation. The survival of the regime will therefore largely depend on its capacity to generate popular support or— failing that—to keep people from engaging against the war. In order to succeed, the Kremlin has to ensure that a large part of the population is prepared to contend with the consequences of the war and show resilience in the name of the mission that Putin has chosen for himself and his country (and that those dissatisfied with the “new normal” are able to leave the country). To that end, the regime has to manufacture support for war by various means. Repression constitutes just one tool in the broader toolkit of the Kremlin, which needs to generate support by applying both top-down framing mechanisms and horizontal pressure to secure loyalty. This memo presents a preliminary mapping of the manufacture of support for the war by identifying three key groups on the domestic scene—the preppers, the fellow travelers, and the activists—and exploring how they have been coopted for the production of the war narrative.
Photo: “Z symbol flash mob at Platinum Arena in Khabarovsk,” by khv27.ru, licensed under CC BY 4.0.