During the discussion “Russian Public and the War on Ukraine: newest data” Dr. Oleksandr Shulga from the Institute for Conflict Studies and Analysis of Russia (IKAR) presented the results of a sociological survey of Russian attitudes towards the country’s war against Ukraine.
The results of the survey conducted by IKAR show a simultaneous acceptance of contradictory beliefs in Russian society. For example, Russians and Ukrainians are seen as a single or very similar nation, however, a lack of empathy toward Ukrainians is reflected in the support of missile strikes on Ukrainians. Furthermore, the majority believe that there are reasons for Russia to launch a “Special Military Operation” against Poland, the Baltic States, or Kazakhstan – such as a threat of an attack on Russia or a threat to Russian-speaking populations in those countries.
Notably, most Russians don’t feel any responsibility for the war, claiming to be apolitical. The acceptance of the war and the phenomenon of ‘split consciousness’ in Russian society benefits the Government, allowing it to present changing and unclear goals that can be altered whenever necessary. When asked whether Russians would protest if their rights were threatened, they claim not to see a suitable protest leader, or personally aren’t ready to protest.
The moral ‘saviour’ justification of the war is taken for granted in Russia as they see Ukraine as their territory. But, at the same time, because Russia and Ukraine are ‘one nation’, Russia is seen as justified in pursuing brutal war actions to preserve and assert the supposed unity. Interestingly, the ‘one nation’ mentality also prevents Russians from supporting using nuclear weapons on neighbouring countries since they wouldn’t bomb their own land.
One drawback of the survey data is that information from different regions can’t be compared since the sample size from each region isn’t sufficient. However, it can show a generational difference. Young people are more liberal and don’t support attacking Ukrainian infrastructure or mobilization. On the other hand, respondents of all ages show unwillingness to participate in the war themselves, even if they support the partial mobilization and the war itself.