Putin's speech reflects national consensus but won't convince critics, says Russian think tank

Do Russians think Vladimir Putin is right? According to the leader of one prominent Russian think tank, the general consensus in the country is that the country's president is accurate when he says that the Ukraine conflict was instigated by NATO and the "western elite."  

"The majority of the Russian population supports this narrative," Andrey Kortunov, the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, told CGTN.  

"The general perception is that the West is hostile to Russia and what we have right now is not really a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but rather a conflict between Russia and the collective West."

Kortunov acknowledges that it is hard to get an accurate measure of the political or social consensus in the country, but he is of the opinion that the majority would hold the 'proxy war' viewpoint.

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As the anniversary of the start of the war approached, Kortunov described Russia's foreign policy in the last 12 months as still in flux.

"It's not really easier to decouple from the previous period of Russian foreign policy, but of course we see a new Russian activism in the East, and that includes both traditional partners of the Russian Federation, but also some new friends or new partners," he said.

While Putin's claims during his address to the Russian Parliament were refuted by U.S. President Joe Biden, who apportioned all of the blame for the attack on the Russian president, Kortunov believes it was well received domestically, although it was not enough to win over his critics.

"I think that those who supported President Putin were confident in their support and for them, Putin wanted to emphasize that the situation is under control and that the country is on the right track," Kortunov told CGTN's Global Business

"Those who were critical of President Putin before the address remain critical, because I think that for them, many questions remained unanswered."

Kortunov, who holds positions on a the board of several committees and Russian organizations, said that while many are calling for a ceasefire, a political resolution to the dispute over sovereign territory will be harder to achieve.

"I personally hope that we will have a ceasefire this year and at least the most active part of the conflict will be behind us before too long," he added.


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