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Geopolitics

A Visit To Putin Country: What Absolute Faith In The Kremlin Looks Like

In the agricultural region of Mordovia, south of Moscow, people live in their own reality, far from Western news and the bloodshed of Ukraine. And Vladimir Putin is like a father.

A Visit To Putin Country: What Absolute Faith In The Kremlin Looks Like

Vladimir Putin during a trip to Saransk in 2012

Benjamin Quénelle

SARANSK — Alexander Kireev embodies the Russia that defies Western sanctions, that sees the war in Ukraine as the Kremlin calls it: a “special military operation.”

Asked if he has ever had doubts in what Vladimir Putin says about Ukraine: Kireev responds with his twinkling eyes and sharp mind: "never.”

“The focus is completely on the liberation of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russia had no other choice. We must put an end to the abuses committed by Ukrainian nationalists,” he adds.

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Kireev doesn’t speak English, hasn't traveled abroad since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented and, anyway, doesn’t have friends to interact with on social networks outside of Russia.

“I don’t have time to waste watching Western media outlets,” he says.

Like many Russians, he keeps up to date with state-owned televisions and some Telegram channels. But Kireev is hardly isolated in his daily life. This agricultural engineer is in charge of an ultra-modern factory equipped with French, Spanish and German machine tools and is proud to produce, along with his 250 employees, about 7,000 tons of cheese a year. And production is booming.

“Sanctions have helped!” Since the 2014 Russian embargo on many European agri-food products, imposed in retaliation for the first wave of Western measures against Russia, the national dairy industry is growing to supplant imports.

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