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Putin a pariah? Not yet. Russia still has powerful friends in the world.

Outside the U.S. and Europe, Vladimir Putin has a lot of support of the world stage. He also has $1 billion a day in European payments for Russian oil and gas.

“We will make sure that Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.”

In some ways, “pariah” sounds right.

In month two of Putin’s war, the Russian leader has been punished and vilified in meaningful ways. But he is far from out in the cold.

Incoming from Europe: $1 billion a day

Even within the Western coalition — home to the sharpest criticism of Putin and the war — the picture is far from black and white.

Friends on the global stage

Beyond the energy money, one could argue that — when it comes to the U.S. and Europe — Putin is indeed a pariah. These countries have imposed harsh economic sanctions, withdrawn their diplomats and accused the Kremlin of war crimes, among other actions. Zoom out to the rest of the world, and you get a very different picture.

“They want a benign relationship with the Russians because of the length and history of the Russian-Chinese border,” Rudd explained. “They want to be able to dedicate all their strategic energies to their principal global and regional strategic adversary, the United States, rather than having to divert some of those resources — military or otherwise — to handling the Russian question.”

“Like other countries, we have important interests of our own that we have to factor in to all our decisions,” a senior Indian diplomat told Grid, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In the Middle East, major players have resisted U.S. calls to isolate Russia — most notably the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two countries with historically close ties to Washington. The de facto leaders of both countries reportedly declined calls with Biden in the aftermath of the Ukraine invasion.

For many African countries, meanwhile, a key concern when it comes to Russia is how the Kremlin might react to punitive measures — particularly at the U.N., where it remains a critical player, given its veto power on the Security Council. “There is a concern that Russia could lash out on other fronts,” Richard Gowan, the U.N. director at the International Crisis Group, told Grid. “Some African countries have been going quietly to the Russians and basically just checking to see that they are not going to start vetoing U.N. peace operations or blocking U.N. humanitarian work in Africa.”

Friends at home

Inside Russia, the story has not evolved in the way many in the West had hoped. A key aim of the sanctions was to spark dissent or at least some opposition to the Kremlin; that may have been a too-ambitious goal, and there are indications that Russian elites, far from abandoning Putin, have rallied around him as the war grinds on.

Among the billionaire oligarchs, for whom sanctions have meant banishment from their Western playgrounds, one in particular has at least drifted back toward the Kremlin.

“Do Russians tell the full truth when asked about their support for the war?” the researchers — Philipp Chapkovski, formerly of HSE University in Moscow, and Max Schaub, from the University of Hamburg — said in their findings.

“Based on our experiment, we can safely conclude that they do not. On the one hand, this is good news,” they wrote.

But they also struck a note of caution: “Being against the war is not the same as being against Putin, whose high levels of support might well be real.”

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