Should Russians be blamed for the war in Ukraine?

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Anita Gautam

Russians who have completed military service before are getting drafted to fight.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has brought a lot of conversations to dinner tables. Some of them involved blaming the citizens for their government’s actions. But blaming citizens is not the solution. 

“I think my whole life, the only president I’ve seen was Putin. Maybe people need a change,” said a Moscow high school student. 

Since the 2000s, Russians haven’t seen anyone other than Putin, or his puppet Dmitry Medvedev. For many, this means they don’t feel represented by this form of government and the laws this government puts in place. Many are in need of another candidate for the presidential seat, but last time someone spoke out to go against Putin, he ended up in jail. 

Alexy Navalny criticized Putin and his secrets. He was later found not only poisoned, but now he is serving a sentence in the IK-6 prison in the village of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region.  

“I don’t think we will ever see another candidate until Putin resigns,” said a social worker in Moscow. 

Many talk about how there is a chance of Putin having a plan of who will be after him and many are scared about not knowing what will happen. Many are talking about the country falling apart, civil wars, and some think everything will stay the same. 

The argument

Many people around the world talk about why the Russians’ citizens are voting for Vladimir Putin. If we look, there are three presidential parties in Russia: Independent, Communist, and LDPR. Russia has dealt a lot with Communism so older generations either are strictly against it or are trying to bring “the old times.” And LDPR has never stood a chance because of the controversial actions of the party. 

“He makes us independent and united. I don’t think I would trust any communist or liberal. Everyone knows what those two parties stand for; they just want us to work for America and give up our land to Biden” – said a citizen of a village 400 miles away from Moscow. 

Moscow has been relatively silent about the war. (Anita Gautam)

So after understanding that people are not willing to lose the “Independence” from Putin’s party,  the only thing left to break down is why they think everyone else will turn the country to Biden, and why is Biden the worst case? 

The people who are aware of the mistakes of the government usually are finding this out through social media, which places the age group from 18-45. And as many know voting has not been a young adult activity, so people who might know the truth fall into the setting of the age and they live in the big cities like Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Sochi. This sets a great promise of Putin’s win, especially because even if they all vote against him, only 47% total will be against him. 

People have the right to be scared. After many arrests of Navalny supporters, many have decided to stay quiet to protect themselves. 

“I know many of my brother’s friends are spending a lot of money on lawyers to clear their case files, just for college. That also stops them from being drafted today, which we are all trying to avoid.” – said a Moscow student about her 19 year old brother. 

Around 5 thousand innocent Russians were arrested for protesting Alexy Navalny, the man who publicly decided to go against Putin. Today he is an unforgettable “hero” in many’s minds, but continuing his word, for now will be just like on his Instagram. 

All those things lead to the Russians not voting for certain policies and actions of their government. They are also causing propaganda which is leading many voters to believe something that they are consuming every single day. 

Many Americans are not used to the concept of the government hiding secrets about their acts of war, so we should learn to separate people from their government.