To an independent filmmaker in Hanoi, President Vladimir Putin of Russia is a “wise leader.” In Rio de Janeiro, a former restaurant owner said he was convinced that Ukraine had hired actors to fake war injuries. And a 27-year-old doctor living near Nairobi questioned how Americans could be outraged over the Russian invasion when “for so long, they had a monopoly over anarchy.”

Most of the world has loudly and unequivocally condemned Putin for sparking a war with Ukraine. But in countries where governments have remained neutral, tacitly supported Russia or encouraged the dissemination of false or sanitized accounts of the war, citizens are voicing a much more complicated and forgiving narrative of Putin’s invasion.

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