For two Russian women, Ukraine stirs pride or fear

STORY: For two Russian women, both named Yekaterina, the war in Ukraine has stirred very different emotions.

One supports President Vladimir Putin and expects victory.

The other opposes Putin and thinks Russia will lose.

A year since Putin sent troops into Ukraine, the views of Russia's 145 million people about Moscow's "special military operation" are still difficult to discern.

Although official opinion polls say Putin's approval rating remains around 80%

Yekaterina has asked for her surname not to be used for fear of online abuse from supporters of Ukraine.

Her flat in southern Moscow is packed full of bags of donated clothes and boxes of food.

She has collected them to send to Russian-controlled Donbas, where many people have been left homeless by the war.

"Two people close to me signed up as military volunteers there - my boyfriend and my close friend. I understood that I needed to do something, to help, to bring the victory closer together."

Polling by the independent Levada Center indicates around 75% of Russians support the Russian military, while 19% do not and 6% don't know.

Three-quarters of Russians expect Russia to be victorious.

Many diplomats and analysts doubt the figures.

"The victory will belong to those who have the truth at their side. Russia has it."

A few miles south, Yekaterina Varenik has a completely different view.

She hates Moscow's "special military operation" and publicly opposes Putin.

After a Russian strike on Dnipro last month, she held up a placard reading "Ukrainians are not our enemies but our brothers" in front of the Moscow statue of Lesya Ukrainka, a Ukrainian poet.

She spent 12 days in detention after her protest.

"I wanted to do it for a long time, but I was scared. After the Dnipro rocket attack on January 14, I realized that there was simply nothing to be afraid of compared to the fear that people there endure on a daily basis. I gathered my strength and went out to the impromptu memorial at the Lesya Ukrainka monument in Moscow. The level of adrenaline was crazy, people came up, supported me, it was very pleasant."

Like many Russians, Varenik has close family and friends across Russia and Ukraine.

She remembers vacations in Ukraine as a child. Now her family is divided by several closed borders and impassable front lines.

Varenik has now emptied out her apartment and is moving to Kyrgyzstan to join her husband, who left soon after Putin ordered troops to Ukraine.

For her, the war is not likely to end any time soon, and in her view Russia's and Russian's reputation will be tarnished forever.

"We in Russia will probably never be able to wash it off."