The British Ministry of Defence, in its latest intelligence estimate, has pointed to new signs from an independent Russian media outlet that public support in Russia for the military campaign was “falling significantly”.
Meduza, a website reporting Russian news from Latvia, says it had obtained a recent confidential opinion survey conducted by the Federal Protection Service, which is in charge of guarding the Kremlin and providing security to top government officials.
The survey, commissioned by the Kremlin, found that 55% of respondents backed peace talks with Ukraine while 25% wanted the war to go on. The report didn’t mention the margin of error.
Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster, found in a similar poll carried out in November poll that 53% of respondents supported peace talks, 41% spoke in favour of continuing the fight, and 6% were undecided. That poll of 1,600 people had a margin of error of no more than 3.4%.
The British MoD noted that:
Despite the Russian authorities’ efforts to enforce pervasive control of the information environment, the conflict has become increasingly tangible for many Russians since the September 2022 partial mobilisation.
“With Russia unlikely to achieve major battlefield successes in the next several months, maintaining even tacit approval of the war amongst the population is likely to be increasingly difficult for the Kremlin.
In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east, near the town of Bakhmut, while shelling sites in the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces liberated last month after an eight-month Russian occupation.
More than 500 Ukrainian localities remained without power on Sunday following weeks of Russian airstrikes on the electric grid, an interior ministry official said.
“The enemy continues to attack the country’s essential infrastructure. Currently, 507 localities in eight regions of our country are cut off from electricity supplies,” deputy interior minister Yevgueny Yenin told Ukrainian television, AFP reports.
“The Kharkiv region is the worst hit with 112 isolated villages,” Yenin added.
Another 90 villages were cut off in the Donetsk and Kherson regions, he said, with others in the regions of Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Lugansk.
Repeated daily power cuts have left millions of people without heat or lighting while outside temperatures have dropped below zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) in recent days.
With further strikes on the network widely expected, Ukrainians fear a difficult prolonged winter as well as a flood of departures by refugees from a war now into a tenth month.
Private Ukrainian energy operator DTEK said Thursday that nearly half of Ukraine’s electricity grid remains damaged after Russia began targeting Ukrainian energy facilities in October.
OPEC+ has agreed to stick to its oil output targets at a meeting on Sunday, two OPEC+ sources told Reuters. The decision comes two days after the Group of Seven (G7) nations agreed a price cap on Russian oil.
OPEC+, which comprises the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, angered the US and other western nations in October when it agreed to cut output by 2m barrels a day (bpd), about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.
Washington accused the group and one of its leaders, Saudi Arabia, of siding with Russia despite Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
OPEC+ argued it had cut output because of a weaker economic outlook. Oil prices have declined since October due to slower Chinese and global growth and higher interest rates.
On Friday, G7 nations and Australia agreed a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil in a move to deprive Vladimir Putin of revenue while keeping Russian oil flowing to global markets.
Moscow said it would not sell its oil under the cap and was analysing how to respond.
The head of US intelligence Avril Haines said Washington expects the ‘reduced tempo’ in the Ukraine conflict to continue over the coming months.
The British MoD has released photographs of Ukrainian recruits training in the UK being issued with their kit for their return to Russia-Ukraine war live: public support in Russia for military campaign ‘falling