Why There Is Little Support For Russia Among ProRussian Ukrainians

The following is a translation of a post on the strana.ua telegram. /stranaua/ While reading this, keep in mind that strana itself has often been accused of being a ‘pro-Russian fifth column’ in Ukraine. It was sanctioned on Zelensky’s command throughout 2021 and 2022 for this reason. Among its politically incorrect stances was its constant defense for the implementation of the political aspects of the Minsk agreements, which would have involved the reintegration of the territories of the ‘L/DPR’ into Ukraine on the basis of regional autonomy and without political purges. They also often critiqued the role of nationalists and US interference in post-2014 Ukrainian politics. It was also the 9th most popular Ukrainian news site by monthly clicks in 2021.

In Russia, they are increasingly asking themselves why those people who were considered “pro-Russian” in Ukraine before the war do not support Putin’s “special operation”?

Why such little support even in the already Russian-controlled territories of southeastern Ukraine?

The answers to these questions are actually obvious.

First, and most importantly, Putin’s attack itself was a shock precisely for those Ukrainians who were sympathetic to Russia (for the nationalists, this was not a shock, but a confirmation of their theories).

After all, before that, the entire leadership of Russia had repeatedly denied the intention to invade Ukraine. And when this happened, people who were positive about Russia and generally shared the opinion about “one people” felt deceived and lost all confidence in Putin.

Secondly, the motives for the invasion declared by Putin did not seem adequate to the “pro-Russian” Ukrainians. After all, Ukraine did not go on the offensive in the Donbass, did not attack Russia. As for joining NATO (which was the main thesis in Putin’s statement about the start of the war), few people in Ukraine believed in the likelihood of this against the backdrop of constant statements from the West that they were not going to accept Ukraine in it. Also, few people believe that Ukraine was supposedly going to attack the “L/DPR” in early March, especially after they had been recognized by Russia (as they are now trying to prove in Moscow). Therefore, the Russian invasion was perceived as completely unmotivated, as an act of treacherous aggression.

Thirdly, no matter how negatively this category of citizens of Ukraine feels towards the Ukrainian government, Maidan, nationalists and external management [by the West], no matter how they condemn Zelensky for the course towards NATO and for refusing to comply with the political part of the Minsk agreements, under no circumstances would they ever want “liberation” through the bombing of their cities and the complete destruction of their lives.

For the majority of Ukrainians, who before the war were referred to as “pro-Russian”, their positive vision for the future was not joining Russia and, moreover, not creating new “people’s republics” (it was well known to everyone that over the past 7 years Russia had failed to establish a normal life in the “L/DNR”), but a change in the external and internal political course of Ukraine, the establishment of good neighborly relations with the Russian Federation. That is, essentially, a return to the model Ukraine had in 2013.

Putin’s attack, in the eyes of “pro-Russian” Ukrainians, leads the country in the opposite direction – to a sharp increase in the nationalist vector.

They see the war as the greatest tragedy and want it to end as soon as possible. And if Zelensky and Russia agree to peace on certain conditions, then this category of Ukrainians will be the most active supporters of such an agreement.

Fourthly, there is still a small part of Ukrainian citizens who, in spite of everything, support Russia, and blame the Ukrainian government for the shelling of residential areas, accusing them of turning cities into fortified areas which the Russian army is firing at.

However, they do not openly support Putin even in the territories controlled by the Russians. Because the officially declared goal of Russia is to achieve a number of demands from Kyiv, after which the Russian army will leave all the territories occupied since February 24 (except Donbass). Naturally, as soon as the Ukrainian authorities return there, all those who collaborated with the Russians will go to trial in the best case for themselves, and in the worst case they will simply be shot as traitors. In such conditions, there are very few who want to openly help the Russian army.

Furthermore, representatives of the Ukrainian elite (more precisely, that part of it that admits cooperation with the Russians) are guided by the same logic. They prefer either to remain silent altogether or condemn Putin’s invasion. Especially considering that Russia did not achieve a quick victory and the outcome of the war remains unclear to them.

Characteristically, representatives of the Ukrainian émigré community from among the ex-party of regions politicians living in Russia (except for Oleg Tsarev) have not shown themselves in any way publicly. Even Yanukovych limited himself to just one rather abstract statement.