International news has been quick to pick-up on videos and stories of Russians who harass Ukrainian refugees in Europe.

In a story that came out Aug 9, a Russian tourist in Europe, who had videotaped herself while she chased-down Ukrainian refugees fanatically yelling about “who is in control of Kherson,” had the rest of her hotel stays in Europe cancelled by Booking.com. The Russian woman posted a video complaining that the company’s actions “ruined her vacation.”

Various European countries have already taken the action of discontinuing the issuance of visas to Russians.

According to the Levada Center, a polling agency in Russia, support for Putin in February reached 71%. Although polling in Russia is problematic, opposition sources have told the Kyiv Post that Russian support for the war in Ukraine is likely around 60% or more.

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To understand why Russians have such strong faith that they are “doing the right thing in Ukraine,” Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist who works as a physician, researcher, and author of a number of acclaimed books, highlighted for the Kyiv Post that, “Generally speaking, just because many people believe one idea does not mean that it is true.”

Underscoring that point, Newberg observed that “In ancient Greece, most people believed in the Greek gods, but we no longer accept that as truth.”

Newberg said that “Cross comparison is an important way in which we determine what is true.” Newberg referenced his bestselling book, Why We Believe What We Believe, in which the authors discussed “the powerful influence of social interaction on the brain and beliefs. We are much more likely to believe something that many others do. However, when belief systems shift, it is usually that one individual (or small group) recognizes that there is a flaw in the belief system that needs to be fixed. If sufficient information/data are found, then there can be a paradigm shift.”

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Partisans Conduct Large-Scale Reconnaissance of Oil Depots in Occupied Crimea Allegedly Used for Military Purposes
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Partisans Conduct Large-Scale Reconnaissance of Oil Depots in Occupied Crimea Allegedly Used for Military Purposes

According to the partisans, the Russians have placed paramilitary guards at oil depots and installed closed-circuit television cameras.

Newberg cautioned that getting Russians to “wake up” would not be easy because “when many people believe in one particular idea, creating a paradigm shift can be very difficult.”

In order to achieve this outcome “A large group of people would have to come to the alternative realization that they [Ukrainians] are not an existential threat. Further, fear is probably the strongest emotion regarding emotions. When something fearful happens, your limbic system, amygdala and hippocampus become activated, which sets up the emotional response, but they also write the event intensely into memory. This reinforces the beliefs. Thus, fear is a great motivator for the brain since the brain uses fear to protect itself and maintain survival.”

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