As Russian troops invaded Ukraine from three sides two weeks ago, Russia's United Nations ambassador declared that "the people of Ukraine will be happy when they are liberated from the regime that occupied them."
But not even the Russian-speaking Ukrainians most in need of "liberation," according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, want Russian troops in their country, The Washington Post reports. In fact, "Russian-speaking Ukrainians are fighting for their country, defending Kharkiv and other cities against the invading Russian army."
"If there is one overriding emotion gripping Ukraine right now, it is hate," The New York Times reports. There is "a deep, seething bitterness" for Putin and his army, "but Ukrainians are not giving a pass to ordinary Russians, either, calling them complicit through years of political passivity. The hatred is vented by mothers in bomb shelters, by volunteers preparing to fight on the front lines, by intellectuals, and by artists."
"Anger and hate in this situation is a normal reaction and important to validate," Olha Koba, a psychologist in Kyiv, told the Times, adding that it's good to channel those feelings into something useful, like making incendiary bombs from empty bottles. "When people are happy about the death of Russian soldiers, it is explicable," Koba said. "There is a subconscious understanding that this soldier will no longer be able to kill their loved ones."
Jailed Russian anti-Putin dissident Alexey Navalny tweeted Tuesday that "whether Russians actually support the hideous war that Putin has waged against Ukraine is a matter of utmost political importance." To measure public sentiment, his organization polled 700 Moscow residents four times in a short span of time, and "we have never observed such dynamics of public opinion shifts," he added. "People rapidly begin to realize who is responsible for initiating the conflict, as well as the war's true objectives and possible outcomes."
What Russians believe about their war in Ukraine probably does matter for Russia's future, but "I am not interested in their motivation now," Yuri Makarov, chief editor for the Ukrainian national broadcaster and head of a national literature and arts award committee, told the Times. "They, with the exception of a few, were quite comfortable being in a full dictatorship."