The thing is, Putin knows he has to walk a fine line between those distinct two groups of Russians.
If Putin allowed Ukraine to go completely independent and take Crimea with it, Putin would have been run out of Moscow.
The former hate his guts and creating a middle class is not what you want to do when you’re an autocrat.
Putin gets most of his support from small town and rural Russia.
Putin started out a liberal and fell back on Russian nationalism because that was the most effective means of mobilizing support for him and his policies.
But should the economy turn south, the mass street protests could reignite and his days in power could be numbered.