Recent Poll Reveals Russian Public Perception of War in Ukraine as Defensive Action Against the West

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.10 - 2024 12:09 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Russian Public Perception of War in Ukraine as Defensive Action Against the West.

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A recent survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago has shed light on the prevailing sentiments among Russians towards their country’s involvement in the war in Ukraine. According to the survey, a significant majority of Russians view the conflict as a defensive measure against NATO and the West, rather than an act of unprovoked aggression.

Strong Support for Putin

Despite the ongoing war, the poll finds that most Russians report little personal effect from the conflict. While the quality of life for many has not materially improved since the onset of the war, there has not been a significant deterioration in overall economic conditions, even in the face of international sanctions.

President Vladimir Putin continues to enjoy substantial approval among the Russian public. Most respondents approve of his job performance, with a majority indicating plans to vote for his reelection this year. This support is underpinned by a perception of Putin’s effective handling of foreign policy, even as his management of domestic affairs receives slightly lower approval ratings.

National Concerns and Global Perception

Corruption and economic issues remain the primary concerns at the national level, with 55 percent of respondents expressing worry over both. Despite rising prices impacting economic circumstances for some, a significant portion of the population feels unaffected by the reduced ability to travel internationally due to the conflict.

The survey also reveals a nuanced view of Russia’s global standing. A majority of Russians take pride in their national identity but feel that Russia is unjustly treated on the world stage. There is a notable concern regarding the encroachment of Western values on traditional Russian beliefs, particularly concerning LGBTQ influence.

The conflict in Ukraine is seen by 64 percent of Russians as a civilizational struggle between Russia and the West, with a significant portion supporting the “special military operation” as described by the Russian government. However, concerns exist about the conflict escalating into a direct confrontation with NATO.

While there is strong support for Putin’s candidacy in the upcoming presidential election, there is also a desire for a diversified political landscape, with a majority recognizing the importance of having an opposition in the political system. Opinions on the need for political reform are divided.

Awareness and Concerns about Government Actions

Most Russians are not fully aware of the recent government crackdowns on journalists, activists, and critics of Putin. Those who are informed express high levels of concern about these actions. In terms of government oversight of personal communications, a majority are comfortable discussing opposition to Putin and offering criticisms, both offline and online.

Primary News Sources

Television remains the primary source of news for most Russians, closely followed by social media platforms. The use of VPNs to bypass content restrictions is relatively low among the population.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted between November 13 and November 21, 2023, via phone interviews with a random sample of Russians aged 18 and older who own mobile phones. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 3.4 percentage points.

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