The population is significant because Russia has plenty of land; it’s war on Ukraine is due to its arrogance and Putin’s need to keep his people focused away from his criminal empirt. As a gangster statesman, he cannot allow his own people to wonder why he rules without their consent, uses the public media for his own political purposes and propaganda, and why all their wealth goes to the new elite he created. He has said the collapse of the Soviet Empire was the worst thing to happen in the 20th Century. It was, then, in his mind, worse than both World Wars, the Holocaust, the Gulag, and Mao’s mass murder. Well, if that doesn’t mean he aspires to redress the loss, you must think it’s just a coincidence that he’s mistreated Georgia and Ukraine for chauvinist reasons and empire building.
My concern is that the more we ‘rattle’ and antagonize Russia, the more we’ll find opponents of our ‘cause’ than proponents, in Russia too.
It’s a fine line to wage war on a ‘dictator’ versus a nation and its people. End of the day, Putin for now represents Russia and has considerable support. In Russia, he is largely perceived as a nationalist, not a communist. He is still quite popular.
It is true 15 or 20 yrs ago, following the downfall of the USSR, some or many Russians felt demoralized, even if not communists or socialists. Some Russians more than others. It hurt their pride. Equally, I don’t see Russians turning their back on Putin just because we think or say they should. Actually if we say they should they most probably won’t.
In fact, I’ve seen so much Anti-Russian (not simply anti-Putin) propaganda on British media in the last few months that it has almost lost the impact it was probably aimed to have.
A simple and recent example was when Daily Mail posted an article about the birth of Kate and William’s new child, stating the Russian media and Russian people commenting had suggested the child was born to a surrogate, etc. The Daily Mail story was picked up by literally every single other newspaper in the UK, which published the story online, leading to very unpleasant counter comments by some Brits.
It turned out that the original Russian publication, in Russian language, had vastly different content, never made stated accusations; it was bogus, anti-russian propaganda spread by British newspapers. Point is this type of fabrication will only strengthened Putin’s popularity in Russia at least, and doubtful it’ll help resolve Ukraine issue.