(Monkey Cage blog/Washington Post) Many analysts have worried in recent weeks about a large buildup of Russian military forces along the Ukrainian border. Russian troops have gathered in areas near the ongoing conflict in the Donbas, and some troops relocated to Crimea. Amid border skirmishes, warnings from the Kremlin and escalating rhetoric on Russian state-owned media, what’s going on?
Some experts speculate that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be seeking a confrontation with Ukraine to bolster his position at home. Reports from Russia show personal support for Putin softening, and his unpopular ruling party faces elections in September.
However, the data suggest it may be hard for Putin to use foreign policy to rally support for military intervention. Russians strongly supported annexing Crimea in 2014, but are otherwise unenthusiastic about Russian foreign policy assertiveness. Rather than resenting the West or harboring vague neo-imperial impulses, the Russian public is ambivalent about Putin’s foreign policy. Here’s why that matters. […]
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