March 11th 2022

Online survey: Russians' Perceptions of the War in Ukraine

Key findings: Almost 50% are in favour of the military intervention. But 36% of those aged 18 to 39 are against it. The USA is seen as primarily to blame and 80% are in favour of Crimea being recognised by the West as part of Russia.

Rare statistics from Russia: Together with our colleagues at pollytix strategic research, we conducted an online survey of 1,500 Russians on the war in Ukraine and their perceptions of all the parties involved in the conflict.

In general, the Russian population has a high level of trust in its leadership (Putin) at 71% and an even higher level of trust in its military at 81%. Unsurprisingly, the USA is primarily blamed for the escalation of the conflict – not Ukraine, NATO or Russia itself. Only one in four is against Russian intervention and one in six thinks Western sanctions are justified. 80% also think that the West should recognise Crimea as part of Russia.

In general, men are more likely than women to express a clear opinion on these matters. And older people in particular follow the line taken by their country. The key results by category are as follows:

Which countries are popular and how popular are they?

Among Russians, Russia and Belarus lead the popularity ranking at 83% each. 50% have a low opinion of their 'brother nation' of Ukraine, with just under 30% having a positive opinion of the country. France and Germany are still rated positively by half of Russians, while the USA is in last place with 26% holding a positive opinion.

Reliability of Russian institutions

After the military, President Putin has the highest rating, which is bolstered by women and older people. Just 51% of all respondents trust Russian media and their own parliament (the Duma).

Awareness of military activities

Despite strict press censorship, more than three quarters of respondents have seen or heard media reports on the military intervention over the last few days.

Responsibility for the conflict

Russians seem to make a strict distinction between NATO and the USA, with 46% blaming the USA and just 11% blaming the defence alliance. Very few people think Ukraine or Russia is responsible for the conflict.

Approval and disapproval of the military intervention

It is primarily older people and men who approve of Russian aggression. Women are significantly more hesitant, but are still clearly in favour of it. It is only among those aged 18 to 39 that the proportion in favour of military intervention is roughly equal to the proportion against it (37% for, 36% against).

Are Western sanctions justified? Who is impacted by the sanctions?

Just 16% think Western sanctions are justified. And 55% believe that the measures will impact Russia as a country. However, a small majority thinks they will not be impacted personally by the restrictions.

Crimea and the status of Ukraine

80% want Crimea to be recognised as part of Russia by the international community. And they also think that Donetsk and Luhansk should remain under Russian administration – with just 21% in favour of administration by Ukraine. Clear majorities are also in favour of demilitarising and "denazifying" Ukraine. Surprisingly, however, opinions are evenly balanced on whether Ukraine should be free to join the EU in the future.

Results and further information on the study

From 3 to 9 March 2022, we worked with pollytix strategic research to conduct a representative online survey of 1,500 people in Russia. The entire study, the press release, the graphs and the moweb logo are available to download below.

Download: Study "Russians' Perceptions of the War in Ukraine"
Download: Press release
Download: moweb research Logo
Download: Graphic

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