An unfortunate reason the current war in Ukraine might go on longer than it should (with the should here being that it should never have happened in the first place, and the sooner it stops the better, with the onus here clearly on V.V. Putin to stop it as he started it without any justification), is that wartime leaders get a puff in their popularity at least for awhile and are let off the hook on domestic problems. From the outside it may look that V.V. Putin is indeed in trouble with much of the world denouncing his Ukraine invasion and imposing economic sanctions on Russia. But with his total control of the media, reports have his poll results up some, despite various prominent figures expressing opposition, with the economic adviser Anatoly Chubais the latest to resign and reportedly depart Russia. Children all over Russia are making Z formations in their schools, and Putin is able to purge enemies and impose an even longer jail sentence on his most threatening political rival, Navalny.
It must be noted that something similar, arguably even more dramatic, has happened with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. He is now being hailed as a new “Winston Churchill,” and is compared favorably with virtually all western leaders who are apparently shamed by the comparison. Now I shall grant that there is much more to admire with him than there is with Putin, with his willingness to remain in Kyiv from the beginning of the invasion at the time when many were predicting a rapid conquest of the city by the invading forces and reports that Putin was actively seeking not only to depose him but to kill him showing real personal bravery. So his reputation is not all that undeserved. But it must be noted that shortly before the invasion started his positive poll rating was an abysmal 21%. He had come into office promising various reforms and changes, but his government had gotten bogged down in many ways. His poll results are much higher now. I do think he wants peace, but it is also the case that he may not be all that keen on going back to what he was. After all, Winston Churchill was defeated in the election of 1945.