A year of war as seen by Russians
On February 2‒9, 2023 we conducted a telephone survey about how Russians see the results of the year of war. The final sample consisted of 1600 people, distributed by socio-demographic and territorial characteristics according to Rosstat. The anonymised data set and analytical report are available on our Github page:
Groups of consistent war supporters and opponents are almost equal in size: 22% vs 20%;
Issue of troops withdrawal divides the society;
Economic problems continue to reduce the effect of state propaganda;
25% spoke out in support of V. Putin, 21% expressed criticism.
For and against the war: 22% vs 20.1%
The indicator of "support" for the war says little in itself, because it includes both those who enlisted as volunteers and those who say the wrong thing for fear of reprisals. We therefore use several different questions to identify those who have a minimally informed stance.
believe army expenses
to be a priority
for the war
wouldn’t support withdrawal of troops without achieving the war goals
In the core group of supporters of the war (22%) we included those who
Expresses support for the war
Believes that in conditions of a budget deficit, public funds should be spent primarily on the army and not on the social sphere
Would not support the decision to withdraw troops from the territory of Ukraine and start peace talks without achieving military goals.
would support withdrawal of troops without achieving the war goals
do not declare support
for the war
believe social expenses
to be a priority
core war opponents
In the core group of those opposed to the war (20.1%), we included those who
Does not express support for the war (we use this principle because we have experimentally established that many people are afraid to speak out openly against the war)
Believes that in conditions of a budget deficit, public funds should be spent primarily on the social sphere and not on the military
Would support a decision to withdraw troops from Ukraine and launch peace talks without achieving military goals.
On troop withdrawal
We asked respondents whether they would support Putin's decision to withdraw troops from the territories of Ukraine and begin peace talks without achieving the objectives of the war.
40% of respondents would support such a decision, while 47% would not.
Respondents who believe that in case of withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine the Ukrainian Armed Forces will go on the offensive on the territory of Russia are less likely to express support.
52% of respondents believe that the Ukrainian Armed Forces will indeed continue the offensive if Russia withdraws its troops to the border by February 24, 2022.
"Refrigerator" continues reset to zero
the "TV effect"
Support for the war decreases as the respondents face economic problems
Faced three problems, not a TV-watcher
Faced one problem, a TV-watcher
Faced one problem, not a TV-watcher
Faced three problems, a TV-watcher
We asked respondents whether they had experienced economic difficulties:
Decrease in their financial situation.
Need to save money on foodstuffs due to a rise in prices.
In October each economic problem reduced the level of declared "support" by approximately 8%: equally for those who watch and do not watch TV. In February, among those who watch TV, each economic problem on average reduced the level of "support" already by 11 percentage points (it is 27% more than in October).
Russians assessed the success of the war as 'for a C grade' and still find it difficult to name its goal
We asked respondents how they assessed the achievement of the objectives of the war. The average evaluation of the achievement of the goals of the war on a five-point scale was 3.16.
Those who declare support for the war more often than others believe that the goals have been achieved on 3 or 4 points, but not more often than others that on 5 ("All the goals have been achieved"). The number of Russians who responded that all objectives have been achieved is 13%. At least every 9th Russian (11%) believes that after a year of war Russia has not achieved any goals (1 point).
17% named "the struggle against the Nazis" as the aim of the war, 12% named "the return of Russian lands", and 8% named "the liberation of Ukraine and Donbass". 20% of respondents could not name the goal of the war, another 15% believe the goal is "the victory of Russia", and 2% state that "Vladimir Putin knows the goal". Thus, after a year of propaganda efforts, 37% of Russians are unable to give a clear answer to the question of what the war in Ukraine is being waged for.
What Russians would say to Putin if they had
We asked respondents what they would say to V. Putin if they had such an opportunity.
Despite the high approval rating stated by the pollsters, only 25% of the respondents would express their support for Putin (I would shake his hand as he has raised Russia. He needs to find competent assistants, he does not have a hundred hands).
13% would express economic and social demands and questions (Why is this war necessary? People are being killed, people are being deprived of their lives, children will be left homeless orphans. and why is it all necessary? We have so much to do in Russia, I can't tell you, and then there's the war).
9% would say that the war has dragged on and they don't understand its purpose. 3% would express disapproval of the war, 2% would demand in one way or another that Putin step down as president (from It's time for that fellow to retire to Has he bought a ticket to The Hague?). 3% said they would refuse to talk (No questions asked, I understand everything about him).
In one way or another, 21% of respondents would be critical.
Other questions: "Wagnerians", the cost of living and the fall of pride
We asked respondents what kind of lump-sum payment they considered acceptable for someone killed in the war. 17% spontaneously expressed the position that human life is priceless, while 45% found it difficult to answer this question. The majority of the rest voiced amounts of 1 to 10 million roubles.
95% of Russians found it difficult to answer the question of how many casualties are acceptable to achieve the objectives of the war.
58% of Russians have a positive attitude to the practice of involving prisoners of war in exchange for a pardon; 28% have a negative attitude to such a practice.
Between April 2022 and February 2023, the number of those who feel proud of the war decreased by 18 percentage points (it is now 52%). The question about feeling encouraged also showed a trend: the number of those experiencing this feeling decreased by 9 percentage points, down to 31%.
50% of Russians said that they have been experiencing anxiety attacks since March; every fifth person surveyed (20%) has stopped communicating with close friends or relatives.
37% said they felt tired of the "special military operation", and one in four (25%) said they were disappointed; those who had become poorer during the year were more likely to have negative feelings about the war.
The question of approving criminal penalties for openly condemning special operation has split society: 44% disapprove of this kind of law, a little less (41%) approve it.
In spite of wartime, the majority (47%) believe that in conditions of scarcity, public money should be spent primarily on the social sphere and not on a "special military operation".
1% of those surveyed said that they themselves had been or were involved in a special operation in Ukraine, while 22% said that their loved ones were involved.
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