Historically, “strongman” governments like Putin’s routinely make temporary economic improvements that bolster popularity and offer an illusion of ongoing wealth production (while skimming as much off the top as possible, of course). Putin seems to have done the same. Further, his tight control over politics, media, other elected officials, major industries, the judiciary, banking and so forth make it fairly easy to perpetuate that illusion for the Russian people. It’s kind of like when dictators win “elections” for decades by 99%. Eventually, however, the “get rich quick” schemes that inherently avoid developing a robust, sustainable and competitive economy, and instead focus on raping, pillaging and hoarding of local resources (or neoliberal exploitation and monopolization by another name), will eventually hit a wall. In developing countries this is called “the resource curse.” What Putin seems to be banking on is expanding his economic and political footprint by military force, which is a very old method of sustaining economic expansion - and in a strongman’s case, prestige as well. Study any megalomaniacal dictator in history, and you’ll find they all did pretty much the same thing that Putin is doing. Until someone stood up to them, or their resources were ultimately depleted. It’s unclear what will arrive first to end Putin’s popularity, but once the Russian economy begins to stutter (and I do believe it eventually will) - perhaps as a result of increased sanctions and containment strategies, or because of a countering military action that frustrates expansion - it will become harder and harder for Putin to sustain the illusion of prosperity and maintain popular support. Perhaps that is why he has worked so hard to get a friendlier…asset into the White House?
My 2 cents.
From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Why-havent-Russians-awakened-to-the-fact-that-Putin-is-leading-Russia-to-economic-destruction-or-can-Putin-prevent-it-from-becoming-publicly-known/answer/T-Collins-Logan