In the light of Putin’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, media reports about significant public support for his war among Russians as well as the lack of mass protests in Russia against the war, many Western observers concluded that a democratic change is not to be expected in the country, that Russians are an imperialistic and undemocratic people by default, and this would never change. For many, the most reasonable strategy seems to be isolating Russia or even achieving its fragmentation as a state, rather than making “unrealistic”—as the proponents of such views say—efforts to facilitate Russia’s democratization. Attempt to restore democracy in Russia, some argue, may even propel to power more dangerous, ultra-nationalistic forces, which would pose a greater danger to the world.
This paper briefly explains why such views are erroneous, as they ignore or dismiss facts on the ground and are counterproductive in the long term, because isolating the country will only incentivize imperialists, nationalists, and other extremists to hold ground. The paper also argues that Russia’s democratization is based on genuine bottom-up public demand for democracy and, therefore, democratization is the only way to pacify Russia in the long run.