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Andreas Kluth

Will Russians Choose Truth or Lies? Ukraine’s Fate Depends on Them

We all deceive ourselves into not seeing painful truths. How ordinary Russians deal with this temptation now has become a matter of war and peace.

De-Nazified and demilitarized, says Putin.

De-Nazified and demilitarized, says Putin.

Photographer: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

Russians are facing a psychological conundrum all human beings confront every day, but at a far more consequential level. It is this: How much will they choose to know, or deliberately not know? Their answer may decide the course of history. 

If the war of aggression by Russian President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine is the world’s most urgent problem, the question about how ordinary Russians sift and interpret information about it is the meta-problem. It’ll determine whether Putin stays in power, and whether he gets away with escalating this conflict into an even bigger catastrophe.