Roman Petrenko — Friday, 22 April 2022, 14:37
The Kremlin appears to be at a loss as to how to stop the war in Ukraine through negotiations while not sacrificing the ratings of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Insiders worry that Russian propaganda has fired up society too much with allegations of "Nazism in Ukraine".
Source: Medusa, quoting sources inside the Russian presidential administration
Details: The domestic policy groups in the administration are struggling to identify "a good PR scenario for exiting the war" that would not lead to a crash of the government's ratings.
The groups started working on such "scenarios" several weeks ago. "[We] looked, [we] turned it around in our minds – no clear scenario in sight. Therefore, [we] decided not to prepare the [public] for potential negotiations [and a peace deal], [we] just let it go its own way," one of the sources explained.
The Kremlin is allegedly certain that most Russians seriously think of this war as a "fight against Nazis and Nazism". As evidence for this they cite the results of "opinion polls" conducted behind closed doors.
Notably, according to the Kremlin, one of the biggest challenges for "society’s exit from the war" might be the "position of many representatives of the middle class" who are supposedly supportive of Russia’s "special operation." In the words of Medusa’s sources, the Russian middle class thinks that "in war, once you have started, you must go on until you achieve a victorious end, all the way to Kyiv, or even to Lviv. You cannot retreat."
Sources say that the Kremlin is apprehensive of potential public displeasure with a Russian military retreat and negotiations and fear that such a scenario may lead to street protests.
They allege that Russian propaganda "has overdone the ‘Nazism in Ukraine’ theme".
Presidential staffers say this means that "it is too late to argue with public opinion", so the Russians will have to fight till some kind of result is attained that can be claimed as "victory".
At the same time, two pundits (one of whom has worked with the Russian presidential administration in the past, the other still co-operates with the Kremlin) expressed doubts about the veracity of these "apprehensions." "It is strange to base [policies] on any [opinion polls] at the moment. People are more likely to be passive, they can be against the war, or beyond it. In Moscow, one can hardly see any middle class cars with ‘Z’ on them."
Both sources are certain that there will be no protests by war supporters if the propaganda is toned down. According to one of them, Russians will "stop thinking and talking about Nazis and completely switch to their own personal issues."