Dr Titov, who is from St Petersburg and has been at Queen’s for 10 years, said: “It’s not like Putin is coming from a narrative that no one else shares, obviously his narrative is much more to the right than most people but it is not completely out of kilter with a lot of Russians.
“The issue of war is another thing, not many people would understand why the war is necessary at this stage.
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“I think this discourse on Ukraine is much more understood in Russia, the decision to go to war is another thing.”
Although warfare has begun in Ukraine Dr Titov said he did not think it would reach the level of World War One or Two as some have predicted.
He said: “The American side has made it clear that they are not going to fight in Ukraine under any circumstances. If they are not getting involved themselves militarily, then Russia will not start World War Three.”
US President Joe Biden has said his troops will not be engaged in a conflict in Ukraine, but added: “We want to send an unmistakable message, though, that the United States, together with our allies, will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
Asked could the conflict be resolved quickly, Dr Titov said: “It depends what you mean by resolution, there is military resolution in the sense that the Ukrainian Army will be destroyed and Russian forces take control. That could be over in a week or so.
“Longer term, it’s such a deep problem, I don’t know what is going to happen afterwards. I think it will take years if not decades, Ukraine will not be the same as it was before.
“At the very least the two separatist republics will not be part of Ukraine, and I don’t think they will be, and if they are it will be a very different type of Ukrainian statehood, completely federalised.”
He pointed out that conflict in eastern Ukraine was not new: “This conflict in Donbas, in east Ukraine, has already been going on for years, since 2014. The other thing is the issue of Russia’s relations with the west, that’s been building up for a rupture for a long time, now the rupture has happened.”
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