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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Half of Russians want Putin to end war in Ukraine, poll shows

A man walks past a billboard reflecting in a puddle depicting the portraits of Russian Army officers in Saint Petersburg on Nov. 8, 2023.    (Olga Maltseva/AFP/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS)
Bloomberg News

Almost half of Russians want President Vladimir Putin to open talks to end the war in Ukraine, according to a survey that found they outnumbered those who wanted to keep fighting for the first time.

Some 48% of respondents agreed it was time to negotiate a peace deal, with 39% in favor of pressing on with the war, the Oct. 21-29 telephone poll of 1,611 people by the Russian Field company found. The proportion favoring talks was the highest since the company, which claims to conduct independent polling paid for by crowdfunding, began monitoring attitudes to the war in April last year.

Almost three-quarters said they’d support Putin if he signed a peace accord tomorrow, a level only exceeded in September last year when Russia announced it was drafting 300,000 people to fight in Ukraine, according to the study. Fear of a future draft also emerged, with 58% saying they opposed a second mobilization.

The apparent rise in public concern is unlikely to influence Putin, who has said he’s only willing to engage in talks that accept “the reality on the ground” of Russia’s seizure of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. He has shown no willingness to end the invasion he began in February 2022, even as Russian forces have incurred huge casualties and repeatedly been forced to retreat from occupied territory by Ukrainian troops armed with billions in weapons from U.S. and NATO allies.

With Putin preparing to seek a fifth term in presidential elections scheduled for March, the Kremlin has imposed the harshest crackdown on dissent in decades, jailing opponents and outlawing criticism of the war.