Sociologists about what Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians think about the war

The results of a sociological study of the attitudes towards the war of citizens of three countries – Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians – were presented at the Warsaw University conference “Still without peace. Warsaw East European Conference”.

Sociologists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus took part in the study. On July 2, they presented the results of their extensive work at a conference whose title translates as “Still Without Peace. Warsaw East European Conference.”

The published data show that 3/4 of Ukrainians call on the Russians to “open their eyes”, but… almost the same number of Russians support the actions of their army in Ukraine. And the majority of Belarusians have an extremely negative attitude towards the possible entry of their country’s troops into a neighboring state.

Employees of the research company Info Sapiens turned to the citizens of Ukraine, NGO ExtremeScan turned to the Russians. The question went like this:

“If you had the opportunity to send a short telegram to ordinary citizens of Russia/Ukraine (not government officials and not the military), what would you write?”.

Inna Volosevich, deputy director of Info Sapiens, presented the results: the majority of “telegrams” from Ukrainians (74%) contained calls to “think your head, open your eyes, start thinking, fight against your power.” But, the sociologist notes, this does not mean that Ukrainians do not blame ordinary Russians – the answers of another 24 respondents contained contempt and anger. According to another Info Sapiens poll, 84% of Ukrainians believe Russians are guilty of the war.

At the same time, hatred was present in only 3% of the responses of Russians, while the majority in their “telegrams” urge the inhabitants of Ukraine to “strengthen”:

“Hold on, friends, and help liberate your own land from fascism”, “Be strong, victory will be ours”, “Hold on, we will come soon, we will save everyone”, “Putin is good, but you are strong, we will support and protect you” .

According to the study, approximately 71% of Russians feel a sense of justice in relation to the “special military operation”, 69% – pride, and only 12% feel shame for an attack on a neighboring country.

According to the results of a study by the Russian Levada Center, in June 75% of Russians supported the actions of the army, 20% did not. And only in one group of respondents – young people aged 18-24 – support was significantly lower (55% approved, 36% condemned).

According to Professor Alexei Levinson, head of the social and cultural research department of the Levada Center, young people support Russia’s actions in Ukraine to a lesser extent, but do not feel responsible for what is happening. The older generation, where most of the fans of Vladimir Putin and the war, feel such responsibility, the expert says. He noted that most Russians have no idea about what is happening in Ukraine, for example, about the killings in Bucha. Levinson says:

“They know about the brave Russian soldiers who help the fraternal Ukrainian people, bring them freedom from some kind of “Nazis.” They support the army because they think they are on the bright side. Yes, propaganda does its job at a very high professional level, but, in my opinion, the Russians think: “We are good, we are on the side of good”. It is much easier to think in this way. I would not shift all the responsibility to propaganda, this is the responsibility of the whole society. For Russians, what is happening is not a war, but a conflict.”

Regarding the prospects, 50% of the Russians polled believe that the situation in Ukraine can transform into a military conflict between Russia and NATO. Another 34% of citizens think that Putin is able to be the first to press the “red button” in the event of a war with the West, while 50% of respondents are afraid of this.

If the citizens of Ukraine and Russia are consolidated around the leaders of their countries, Zelensky and Putin, whose ratings are incredibly high, then the vast majority of Belarusians are united around the idea: 85% of those polled by the Belarusian Analytical Workshop (BAW) oppose the deployment of Belarusian troops to Ukraine to participate in the war. The head of the BAW, Professor Andrey Vardomatsky notes:

“A clear dominant in the denial of the potential entry of troops into the territory of Ukraine. Only about every tenth Belarusian would react positively to this. We are talking about the actualization of the tragic historical memory of Belarusians, every second generation of whom went through a monstrous war, losing more than half of the population. The civil meaning of these empirical results in the fact that the Belarusians do not want to participate in this war directly by sending troops.

Although, Vardomatsky emphasizes, the opinion of the Belarusian people does not coincide with the position of the official Minsk. And the inhabitants of Ukraine have an ambivalent attitude towards Belarusians, says Inna Volosevich:

“We should not expect that we will not blame the Belarusians. At the same time, Belarusians are fighting in our army, we are very grateful to them, we are also grateful for the partisan movement in Belarus, but the country is our enemy, missiles are flying from there. Although the difference between the attitude towards the Russians and the Belarusians more. Only a third of the Ukrainians resolutely blame the Belarusians for everything.”

According to the expert, despite the fact that missiles from Belarus have been flying for a long time, the negative towards Belarusians is inspired: on the one hand, by Russia, on the other, an increasing number of Ukrainians have killed and injured relatives or acquaintances, which does not improve the attitude towards Belarusians. According to her, 70% of Ukrainians believe that the war will go on for more than six months, while the vast majority believe in Ukraine’s victory. The sociologist emphasizes as he writes Delphi (a network of online news publications in the Baltic States):

“Back in February and March, most Ukrainians had big illusions about the Russians. We thought that the Russians would be horrified just like us, something would happen and it would stop. But after three months of the war, most Ukrainians believe that the war will continue from six months. But at the same time, faith in victory is stable – 92% of Ukrainians believe: we will win.”



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