Guest Post: Speedbox – What do Russians really think?

Over the past couple of days I’ve been canvassing relatives (in law) and numerous friends in Russia on their opinion of the invasion and local impact.  Whilst the results of my enquiries are really no more than a straw poll, they do provide some interesting insights.  In summary, approximately 75% of the sample (35 people in total) do not support the invasion with a matching opinion that nobody can threaten Russia.

The common expression was that if the US/NATO, or anyone else, dared to set one foot into Russian territory, the response would be withering and all Russians would willingly commit everything to fighting an invader.  This is a fervent belief so the follow-on is that attacking Ukraine was pointless and will come at a mammoth cost that will weaken the nation.

But, and this is fascinating, under no circumstances will the Crimea ever be returned to Ukrainian control.  Withdrawal from the Donbas region was negotiable.  Other notable remarks were:

1st.  Nobody thought Russian troops would actually invade.  Everyone believed that Russia would maintain an aggressive posture on its own side of the border, and in Belarus.

2nd. Those in the large cities (Moscow; St Petersburg) are furious with Putin believing that Russia will pay a monstrous price in the loss of Russian soldier’s lives, the cost of sanctions and other impacts to the economy/lifestyle and an undeserved fall in the international reputation of every Russian.

3rd. Those in regional towns are split between supporting the invasion (Ukraine is Russian!) and mirroring the opinion of those in the big cities.  Those supporting the invasion acknowledge the national price will be high but believe that price is worth paying to regain the Ukraine and create a permanent land safeguard against US/NATO/EU belligerence.

4th. Those who do not support the invasion and have money are now wanting to leave Russia permanently.  However, some countries are not processing visas (of any description) for the average Russian.  One individual has already tried the embassies of France, Canada and the USA and was told to come back “in a month or two”.  The embassies wouldn’t even discuss potential emigration for himself and his family.  (He asked me whether Australia was a possibility).

5th. Local news report that passport applications have reached unprecedented levels and the processing period has blown out to ‘many’ weeks (from the usual two weeks) and that a formal interview with a passport officer is now required (no interview previously) slowing the process still further.

6th. International firms have already begun closing stores and factories of international businesses have begun the wind-down process.  One friend who is a very senior executive with a major international company has been told he will be stood down in April along with about twelve hundred Russian employees.  He has also been told there is no comparable position available in the company’s other global locations and the company’s financial support for the executive’s luxury apartment, car (and driver) will also cease in April.

7th. Russian banks will convert inbound foreign currency (cash) but sending money inbound via international transfer is now (near) impossible as most (all) money transfer services have suspended their services into Russia.  Sending foreign currency out of Russia electronically is hopeless although some report foreign currency cash is available at a minimum 30% discount to the official rate.  Of course, this is a further issue for those wishing to leave the country.  The ruble (as cash) is effectively worthless outside Russia.  Domestic banking appears unaffected at this time.  Those who can are buying physical gold (at inflated prices) whilst others are looking into cryptocurrency.

8th. Prices at market stores have not risen significantly although some isolated increases have been noted (possible profiteering).  There doesn’t seem to be any noticeable impact on imported foods at this time however everybody is certain that shortages and significant price increases are imminent.

9th. Those in the building industry are very concerned about their being able to complete projects due to the likely inability to import materials/accessories or subsequently remit payment to international suppliers (or pay in advance).

10th. Everyone is stunned at the ‘pile-on’ by international entities (including sports) who are rushing to exit Russia and/or, cancelling events/banning Russian athletes.  This is considered grossly unfair.  (A handful of my contacts did think Russians will be better off without McDonalds).

11th. A number of domestic flights have been cancelled and movement around the country, by air, is challenging.  One associate needed to travel from northern to southern Russia and this required a flight to Moscow, then an international flight to Kazakhstan (!), then a flight to the destination city in southern Russia.  Approximately 36 hours of total travel for what previously had been a five or six hour direct journey.  Travel by domestic train service would have taken over three days.

12th. Other international flights are still available, but fewer.  A number of international airlines have cancelled services to Moscow and this is having a corresponding impact on outbound passenger seats.  Ticket prices have increased.

Although only a miniscule sample of people in a huge country, it was notable that while most Russians usually display resigned acceptance to hardship, this time there was genuine concern that the sanctions, other economic measures and cancellations may actually do significant financial harm to themselves and their family.  It was also noted that most expressed wretched dismay at the anticipated number of dead Russian soldiers that will be repatriated home.  All believed that whilst Russia will eventually prevail militarily, previous losses in Chechnya will probably seem low by comparison.

What a mess.

47 thoughts on “Guest Post: Speedbox – What do Russians really think?”

  1. Are they as concerned about climate change as John Kerry thinks they should be? Do they want to emulate the West after seeing the woke dumpster fire the globalists have imposed on it over the last few decades?
    moderated

    13
  2. Petros
    No, and of course not – only a handful speak English.

    Karabar
    No, but the dread of many lost soldiers is real. The families of those affected will know, even without physical remains.


    Report comment

    1
  3. Thanks Speedbox. Do you think it might have changed some of their minds if they knew that there were multiple biolabs in the Ukraine, funded by the US?


    Report comment

    6
  4. Ukraine was setting up an invasion of the Donbas, which is why Putin struck first. All we can hope is they achieve their mission of denazification as quickly as possible. The corruptocrats want to see Russia bogged down like they were in shitholeistan, no doubt they are happy to have all their corrupt dealings buried in the ruble.


    Report comment

    6
  5. Did you ask them if they know that the army has portable crematoriums and don’t intend to take any body bags back to the Motherland?

    If true it’s not likely to endear Putin to the Russian people.

    Not just the for the obvious reason, but also because the Russian Orthodox Church rejects cremation and a lot of those young men will be baptised and wearing Byzantrine crosses around their necks as well as dog tags.


    Report comment

    3
  6. The common expression was that if the US/NATO, or anyone else, dared to set one foot into Russian territory…

    It’s the Chinese they need to worry about in that regard, not the US/NATO.

    Although European Russians might not be all that keen to fight for bits of Siberia, or the Kurile Islands if Japan follows through on its recent claim that they will always be Japanese territory.


    Report comment

    6
  7. Roger says:
    March 14, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    Indeed. I wrote the following for another post but discarded it. Relevant to your comments.

    A side effect of Beijing’s investment – an influx of Chinese migrants – is often perceived by Russian locals as an expression of China’s de facto territorial expansion. Some Russian political groups and media outlets have tapped into this anxiety and deliberately sensationalised it in Moscow, but to Russians in the Far East, it is a legitimate concern.

    This issue bubbled to the surface (again) in May 2020 when the Russian embassy in India posted a congratulatory note to Vladivostok about the anniversary of it being granted city status in May 1880. The note would have vanished into the ether if the Russian Embassy in Beijing hadn’t followed up with a similar note.

    The Chinese State-owned CGTN network said the comments by the Russian embassy were “not welcome” as Vladivostok was earlier a Chinese territory before Russia annexed it through the ‘unequal’ Treaty of Beijing. Other Chinese diplomats including China’s ambassador to Pakistan echoed the comments. It is inconceivable that any comment by any diplomat were made without the approval of Beijing.

    In fact, whilst China’s nominal historical claim of Russian territory amounts to only 160,000 sq kms (a tiny slice of Russia’s 17 million sq km), I doubt Russia would see it that way and there can be no doubt that the Russian congratulatory notes to Vladivostok, and the Chinese rebuttal, are strategic signals by both countries.


    Report comment

    2
  8. Thanks Speedbox. I suspect that after the extent of the debilitating sanctions on Russia were announced, many erstwhile Russian patriots paused in their support of Putin. Life is going to become very very tough in Russia for a good portion of her citizens. Unless Putin resolves Ukraine and the sanctions quickly


    Report comment

    2
  9. The western sanctions may well backfire, cause ordinary Russians to suffer the worst and they may well begin to hate the west and support Putin. The west is backing these ordinary Russians into a corner and that may well mean that they’ll come out fighting.


    Report comment

    9
  10. The west is backing these ordinary Russians into a corner and that may well mean that they’ll come out fighting.

    My sense is most Russians are very patriotic to the motherland but these sanctions will create an economic shock not experienced since the collapse of communism. The big population centres of Russia are dominated by young people < 35 years old and they are an aspirational generation. Over time I can't see them rolling in behind Putin, exchanging their hard won improvements in living standards for pride in taking back the Donbass. The clock is ticking for Putin.


    Report comment

    2
  11. Unless Putin resolves Ukraine and the sanctions quickly

    Putin is not resolving anything in Ukraine, with only ~100,000 troops up against 40+ million people, about 90% of whom (now) utterly despise Russia. He’s had three weeks now and achieved SFA except leveling a bunch of cities. The Russian economy is going back 40 years and there’s not a damn thing Putin can do about it.


    Report comment

    2
  12. achieved SFA except leveling a bunch of cities.

    That’s totally inaccurate. Russia now has the Donbass secured and a land bridge to Crimea. Both major objectives. Dial back the hyperbole.


    Report comment

    13
  13. ” 40+ million people, about 90% of whom (now) utterly despise Russia.”

    That’s your opinion, I suspect that there are more than 10% of Ukrainians who don’t despise Russia..


    Report comment

    6
  14. Makka says:
    March 14, 2022 at 3:20 pm
    My sense is most Russians are very patriotic to the motherland…..

    I have always thought it was a touch ironic that the one thing Russians and Americans have in common, are in lock-step about, is their devotion to their respective nation. Under no circumstances will either cede one square centimetre and they will commit everything, at whatever cost, to regaining that solitary square centimetre.

    The issue of the attitude of younger people is valid. They have little/no recollection of communism and the deprivations and they have (mostly) travelled to Paris, Ibiza, south of France, Milan etc. They want the ‘european style’ apartments*, the better quality cars, the nice clothes. They work, start businesses, invest and they love their country and its emerging prosperity……they are likely to be disgruntled and uncooperative in supporting a regime that threatens that.

    *A friend of mine owns a building company in Moscow with his two brothers. I’m not certain but believe they employ about 100 staff and trades/contractors so it is a reasonable size business. In any case, they focus specifically on building quality upper end ‘Euro style’ apartments with corresponding fittings etc and they have, at least until now, struggled to meet demand. It remains to be seen what will happen.


    Report comment

    3
  15. I think the responses of your Russians reflect the changing nature of Russia, in line with global trends. Urban Russians reflect the attitudes and concerns of urban elites everywhere. The regional/rural citizens are more russia-centric and reflect older values. Same, same…the world over.

    Which approach will influence Putin? I think everyone knows the answer. However, the forces of history move imperceptibly, but will not be shifted off course.


    Report comment

    7
  16. Thanks Speedbox for a very interesting insider insight. Best wishes for your family there.

    I think China is going be be encouraging and helpful to Russia since they desperately need coal, oil and gas supplies. So new pipelines and better rail capacity would be very welcome I think. The financial links are also increasing rapidly with Russian companies opening accounts in Chinese banks and Russian banks starting up yuan savings accounts with high interest rates.

    Yuan Deposits Soar At Russian Banks After SWIFT Cut-Off (14 Mar)

    Russian firms rush to open Chinese bank accounts as sanctions bite – sources (4 Mar)


    Report comment

    2
  17. Cassie: which ones do you think like Russia’s invasion? The ones whose sons are dying, the ones whose houses are destroyed or the ones whose children have had to be taken to Poland?
    Russia has broken two treaties – one signed by Putin – and is conducting wide scale deliberate destruction. Putin treats Ukrainians as if they’ve no right to anything at all and intends to treat them at least as badly as he treats his own citizens.
    Putin’s big mistake is not knowing that – with all his terror and power – he’s not actually competent.


    Report comment

    3
  18. “Living the dreamsays:
    March 14, 2022 at 6:28 pm”

    1. Killing the dream is obsessed with me. I clearly live in his small head.

    2. Killing the dream has said nothing about the Ukrainian government’s violation of the Minsk Agreements prior to the invasion.

    3. Killing the dream is selective with his facts.

    4. Killing the dream is not actually competent.


    Report comment

    4
  19. “Living the dreamsays:
    March 14, 2022 at 6:28 pm”

    By the way Killing the dream…anything to say about Speedbox’s thread or are you just here to troll?


    Report comment

    4
  20. Cassie: it is obvious that you are a Putin lover. You intrude soft propaganda into every thread. In this case, asserting that YOU think lots of Ukranians are in favour of the invasion. What you don’t like is having it pointed out because, like Putin, you are soft and gutless.
    By the way, how’s that Putin “hard power” working out? Not so good, eh? Suck it.


    Report comment

    1
  21. Roger says:
    March 14, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    Indeed. I wrote the following for another post but discarded it. Relevant to your comments.

    Thanks Speedy!

    Hope your wife is in good spirits regardless of everything happening.


    Report comment

    2
  22. “Living the dreamsays:
    March 14, 2022 at 7:26 pm”

    No Killing the dream…I’m not a Putin lover.

    You’re a troll…and not an entertaining one.


    Report comment

    6
  23. Oh and Killing the dream, here’s what it says about trolling above…

    “Trolling, posting “inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages…with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses, or manipulating others’ perception” will result in the deletion of relevant comment, while persistent trolling will incur a ban;”

    I’ll reiterate, I have never said anywhere that “I’m a Putin lover”.

    Now piss off.


    Report comment

    8
  24. Living the dreamsays:
    March 14, 2022 at 7:26 pm
    Cassie: it is obvious that you are a Putin lover. You intrude soft propaganda into every thread. In this case, asserting that YOU think lots of Ukranians are in favour of the invasion.

    Um…

    Several of us “here” are miffed that our congeners have fallen in love with Vlad Bae…

    We are Putin realists, but also Ukrainian corruption realists.


    Report comment

    8
  25. Putin is not resolving anything in Ukraine, with only ~100,000 troops up against 40+ million people, about 90% of whom (now) utterly despise Russia. He’s had three weeks now and achieved SFA except leveling a bunch of cities. The Russian economy is going back 40 years and there’s not a damn thing Putin can do about it.

    You’re not allowed to criticise Putin or anger him, that means he can invade or nuke you.

    Also, totally disregard his alliance to China. Just forget about, but isn’t China very, very bad?


    Report comment

    1
  26. Ukraine was setting up an invasion of the Donbas, which is why Putin struck first. All we can hope is they achieve their mission of denazification as quickly as possible. The corruptocrats want to see Russia bogged down like they were in shitholeistan, no doubt they are happy to have all their corrupt dealings buried in the ruble.

    The hilarious thing here is that most supporters of Vladimir Putin within the West are extremists of the alt-right persuasion. If we ever see contiki torcher Richard Spencer lauding the ‘de-nazification’ of Ukraine (I haven’t checked), we’ll know the jig is up.


    Report comment

  27. It is very hard to get objective factual information from the usual suspects, but it does look like Putin has cruelled his chance of canonisation or even beatification by the Russian Orthodox. Especially when the casualties are counted. It also increasingly appears that he underestimated the military response, but its not “quagmire” time yet.

    Putin has stated his war aims: 1. Ukrainian recognition of Russian sovereignty in Crimea. 2. Ukrainian recognition of the two Dombas republics. 3. A constitutional clause guaranteeing Ukrainian neutrality wrt NATO and Russia. It looks like Zelensky will accept those conditions for a ceasefire and peace, but it probably wont be acceptable to “The West”, or all Ukrainians.

    If Putin does achieve his war aims he may be able to prevail for a while. But its become personal and there will be no reconciliation with Putin. Maybe his successor will be able to consolidate his gains and repair the fences.

    If anybody has worked out how to get objective info about what is happening on the ground, it would be good to see.


    Report comment

    1
  28. “The hilarious thing here is that most supporters of Vladimir Putin within the West are extremists of the alt-right persuasion. If we ever see contiki torcher Richard Spencer lauding the ‘de-nazification’ of Ukraine (I haven’t checked), we’ll know the jig is up.”

    That is simply not true, I wouldn’t describe John Mearsheimer, the late Stephen Cohen, Glen Greenwald, Aaron Mate, George Szamuely, Jimmy Dore, George Galloway and many others as being “of the alt-right persuasion”. All of the above names are leftists/progressives.


    Report comment

    5
  29. Cassie: you’re completely disingenuous. You like to roll out your little Putinisms, virtually unaltered from the propaganda machine, and then whine like crazy when they’re called out. You like to think that “hard power” is the answer to everything and now your “hard power” man is arse-deep in crap. Own it.


    Report comment

  30. Where is that article posted on this site which lined the virus labs to the Ukrainian oligarch, Biden, and Zelensky.
    For me it added everything up to where we are now.
    Please re post it.
    It is as if the Ukraine is the mass which is manipulated by Democrat America v Putin.
    I keep thinking when Putin said O Bama was an idiot and did not not thrust the homosexuality on his population as the driving force by the Democrats to murder him.


    Report comment

    1
  31. “Living the dreamsays:
    March 15, 2022 at 8:26 am
    Cassie: you’re completely disingenuous. You like to roll out your little Putinisms, virtually unaltered from the propaganda machine, and then whine like crazy when they’re called out. You like to think that “hard power” is the answer to everything and now your “hard power” man is arse-deep in crap. Own it.”

    I don’t roll out any “little Putinisms”. Once again you’re putting words in my mouth.
    Perhaps you’d like to comment on Speedbox’s excellent post or are you just here to troll me? I think it’s time you heeded Dover’s words above.


    Report comment

    2
  32. Thanks for sharing Speedbox.

    Jannie says:
    March 14, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    Putin has stated his war aims: 1. Ukrainian recognition of Russian sovereignty in Crimea. 2. Ukrainian recognition of the two Dombas republics. 3. A constitutional clause guaranteeing Ukrainian neutrality wrt NATO and Russia. It looks like Zelensky will accept those conditions for a ceasefire and peace, but it probably wont be acceptable to “The West”, or all Ukrainians.

    Herein lies the problem, the Ukrainians don’t run their own country, decisions are made by others and Zelensky is just their puppet. This was apparent when the first mention of peace talks was made, the US very quickly told Zelensky that he wasn’t allowed to negotiate with Russia, they would.


    Report comment

    1
  33. Very interesting post, Speedbox . Thanks for taking the time to research and share. It adds a further dimension to the many perspectives out there. Much appreciated.


    Report comment

  34. LTD proves that despite being several intellectual levels below cretin it is still possible to operate a keyboard. Sadly, the resultant online combination of random letters into words and sentences is, funnily enough, unfathomable since it lacks both structural coherence and meaning.


    Report comment

    3
  35. I rather prefer Putins morals to those of Australia. Any country that allows the promotion of sexual deviance in primary schools is not worth fighting for.
    moderated

    2
  36. Hey Rex! Woof! (And you too Megan, using so many words to say Grrrr.)

    What what that supposed to mean, Littlest Anklebiter?

    Are you even sure yourself?


    Report comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *