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In Estonia, Ethnic Russians Start Questioning Putin’s War

In Estonia, Ethnic Russians Start Questioning Putin’s War

NARVA, Estonia — Like many of the ethnic Russians who live along Estonia’s eastern border with Russia, Stansislava Larchenko could not believe that President Vladimir V. Putin had gone on a killing spree in Ukraine.

Ms. Larchenko, 51, got angry with her son when he said in February after Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine that Russian soldiers were killing civilians. She insisted the carnage was the work of Ukrainians dressed in Russian uniforms, a trope of the state television beamed in from Russia that she watched.

“For me, Russia was always a liberator, a country that got attacked but never attacked others,” Ms. Larchenko said in the Estonian border city of Narva, NATO’s easternmost outpost and the European Union’s most ethnically Russian city.

“Psychologically,” she said, “I have passed over to the other side.”

Beneath the surface, however, the mood in Narva is changing, particularly among younger ethnic Russians. For some, this shift carries a worrying message for the Kremlin: Private doubts are eroding public support for what Mr. Putin calls his “special military…

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