14.03 Expertise ‘Once we've started, we can't stop’: how Russians' attitudes to the war in Ukraine are changing Svetlana Erpyleva Over the past year, a number of opinion polls have attempted to discover which Russians support the war in Ukraine and which do not. However, in-depth interviews reveal that these efforts may not be capable of yielding any satisfactory results: the majority of Russians both support and do not support the war at the same time. The attitudes of Russian citizens towards the war are a patchwork, contradictory and in flux, consisting of arguments and narratives from each side. 01.03 Polls Expertise THE PLUNGE INTO WAR: PUBLIC OPINION CHRONICLED While at first glance it may seem as though there is a declarative ‘majority of support’ for the war, there is perhaps more significantly a ‘majority of non-resistance’, which allows the pro-war minority to dominate the public debate. For mainstream Russian society, the ‘plunge into war’ remains a coerced strategy, and the consolidation of revanchist sentiments among one segment of society coexists with the considerable potential for demobilisation within another. Re: Russia presents an overview of the results of public opinion polling conducted by the independent Chronicles project. 08.02 Expertise Worse Than a Crisis. The 2022 Russian economic anomaly: how it works, and where it is headed Oleg Vyugin, Evsei Gurvich, Oleg Itskhoki, Andrei Yakovlev The Russian economy's decline in 2022 was not as severe as economists predicted, but that does not mean it was able to ‘withstand’ the impact of sanctions. These figures merely reflect the effective mobilisation of economic resources, and as the country’s revenues decline, the economy will face investment deficiency, devaluation, budget deficits, and demand contraction — all of which are symptoms of the conventional economic crisis that awaits Russia. 26.01 Expertise Crisis in Abundance: why did the Russian economy fail to collapse and is there a crisis on the horizon? Oleg Itskhoki The sanctions imposed on the Russian economy are unprecedented in scale, but they appear to have been less effective than was initially expected. A combination of factors has helped stave off the collapse of the Russian economy, including contradictory sanctions policies, radical administrative decisions taken by the Kremlin, and a surge in Russian export revenues alongside a trade surplus reinforced by restrictions on Russian imports. 23.01 Sanctions Expertise A Price Cap or Smoke and Mirrors? How Much Does Russian Oil Actually Cost? Sergey Vakulenko There’s an assumption that the price cap on Russian oil is working perfectly. However, the terms of the Russian oil trade have changed, and it is therefore useless to employ the old methods of assessing the market under the current circumstances. Today these do not provide us with actual transparency so much as imitate it. In fact, it is most likely that the discount on Russian oil is not as significant as it seems at first glance, and moreover it is advantageous for Russian players to maintain the perception that sanctions on oil are working effectively. 11.01 Expertise The Russian Rhizome: A Social Portrait of New Immigrants The new wave of emigration from Russia differs greatly from those that occurred in the twentieth century — the 2022 emigrants typically exhibit high levels of trust and social mobility, and they are ready and willing to become involved in the life of their host countries and actively participate in social initiatives. While these new emigrants have strong ties to Russia, they remain sceptical of the chance for positive change in their home country in the near future. Will the new diaspora have an impact on Russia's history? 26.12.22 Ideologies Expertise Regime of Imperial Paranoia: War in the Age of Empty Rhetoric Mikhail Yampolsky Any rational explanation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine seems inadequate and unsatisfying, as it has never been based on any rational grounds. The war with Ukraine is a void created by the continual repetition of pseudo-meanings. Through rhetoric and projections into theatricalised rituals, it organises reality into simple and accessible behaviours that can be easily and widely assimilated thanks to their simplicity. 19.12.22 Expertise The Patchwork Quilt: The Man-Made Crisis of 2022 and its Effect on Russia’s Regions Natalya Zubarevich In 2022, Russia has witnessed a variety of economic trends: some Russian regions have shown strong economic growth, while others have witnessed significant decline. These discrepancies, as Russian businesses have attempted to tackle the ongoing crisis, can be explained by an extensive list of factors: sanctions, the disruption of supply chains, government support packages, increased defence spending, Western companies leaving the Russian market, and the emergence of new product niches. Significantly, however, high revenues from raw material exports continue to mitigate the crisis. 06.12.22 Expertise War as a Civilisational Shift Marina Davydova The war against Ukraine has become an instrument to sever Russia's ties with the West in a radical manner. This may likely result in an equally radical transformation of Russian society, altering the natural course of its development. Marina Davydova, one of the main ideologues and facilitators of the integration between Russian and European theatre over the last decade, analyses the nature of this cultural and civilisational shift and its potential consequences, and describes the pogrom that Russian theatre has experienced since the start of the war. 30.11.22 Polls Expertise Special Operation Frustration Nadya Evangelian, Andrey Tkachenko Russian citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to respond to questions regarding the ‘special military operation’, such as when it will end and how well it is going. The number of Russians who are experiencing anxiety and depression is growing. These are the latest findings from polling by the independent Chronicles project. Although the level of support for the war recorded by this project has remained unchanged since the beginning of the summer — hovering at about 55% — the core of supporters of the ‘special operation’ stands at no more than a third of all respondents. 07.11.22 Propaganda Expertise Putin Fans or Kremlin Bots? Maxim Alyukov, Maria Kunilovskaya, Andrei Semenov Over the past decade Russia has created a powerful infrastructure of "networked authoritarianism". This is focused not on restriction but on the active creation of social media content. Analysis of simulated support for the authorities through astroturfing and the real response of social media users to the war in Ukraine shows that, despite the variety of the Kremlin’s online strategies, its social media propaganda is not always successful. However, it functions to distort our perceptions of "grassroots sentiment". 17.10.22 Expertise Crisis Instead of a Deal Sergey Vakulenko Europe will survive the approaching winter without Russian gas, but the energy crisis will continue beyond this year, widening into a global economic crisis. Nevertheless, contrary to Kremlin expectations, the West has rejected the possibility of a political deal with Moscow, and the costs to Russia of the energy and sanctions war will mount rapidly. A new report by Sergei Vakulenko draws some preliminary conclusions from Russia's energy confrontation with the West. 10.10.22 Expertise The Reverse Evolution of a Spin Dictatorship Daniel Treisman In the 21st century, repressive dictatorships seem to have morphed into "spin dictatorships" based on control over the media, but Russia is undergoing a reverse evolution, turning back into a traditional "dictatorship of fear". According to Daniel Treisman, the reason for this regression is not the conservatism and imperial ambitions of the Russian people, but rather the inability of Putin's regime to cope with a successful modernisation of Russian society. 28.09.22 Ideologies Expertise An ideology without principles Andrei Zorin, Ekaterina Schulmann, Alexander Panchenko, Gulnaz Sharafutdinova Authoritarian regimes paid great attention to ideological construction in the twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century they have been characterised by ideological passivity. Despite this, Putin's war requires not only military but also political mobilisation. The war requires the construction of ideological narratives that can capture and consolidate the population. In our discussion series, Andrei Zorin, Ekaterina Schulmann, Alexander Panchenko, and Gulnaz Sharafutdinova consider whether the Russian regime has an ideology. 12.07.22 Sanctions Expertise The Conservation Effect Sergey Aleksashenko, Kirill Rogov, Yulia Starostina, Oleg Vyugin, Oleg Buklemishev The dominant perception in Russia has been that the impact of sanctions is insignificant: in addition to the public optimism of officials and major CEOs, a positive attitude is widespread among the people and a significant part of the business community. SERGEY ALEKSASHENKO, OLEG BUKLEMISHEV, OLEG VYUGIN, KIRILL ROGOV and YULIA STAROSTINA discuss how sanctions actually work and how they do not, and why the country's ability to resist them maximizes its long-term losses.