Dark (Before the Dawn?

Between April 10th and 18th, we conducted a joint survey in collaboration with Info Sapiens, a Ukrainian research agency. We found out that:

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Can wars buy happiness?

The Ukrainians’ appeals to Russians and the Russians’ appeals to Ukrainians mirror each other, with calls from both sides to face the truth, stop the war and fight the government


In Russia, the primary supporters of the war are those least affected by it


78% of Russians say they’re happy. At the same time, 36% feel they have no control over their lives and 51% feel sympathy for their fellow citizens


42% of Russians feel personally responsible for the “military operation” in Ukraine. 

The current level of happiness in Russia equals that of pre-war Ukraine. 78% of respondents say they’re happy or very happy, and only 13% say they’re unhappy. 

This figure, however, runs counter to other data: 36% of Russians feel they have no control over their lives, while 38% believe they do. In war-ridden Ukraine, only 18% of respondents feel like they can’t control their own lives, while 53% believe they can. 

At the same time, 47% of Ukrainians say they are unhappy or very unhappy. The most unhappy are the respondents from Eastern Ukraine (68%), where active hostilities are underway. Predictably enough, the level of unhappiness is also high among those who had to flee their homes due to hostilities (59%). 


“The Russians’ lack of assertiveness manifested itself clearly in their answers to two questions: “Should Russia stop the special operation as soon as possible?” and “If you had the power to stop the special operation right now, would you do it?”. 30% replied affirmatively to the first question, but only 19% replied “yes” to the second one. In other words, a third of Russians who believe that the war has to end wouldn’t take it upon themselves to stop it out of fear of personal responsbility. After all, what if “the situation isn’t that clear-cut”, as they say?”


– Excerpt from the Info Sapiens press release 

Perception of their own nation 

Since the war began, the Russians’ general attitude towards their fellow citizens hasn’t changed. Approximately a quarter of Russians (27%) think more highly of their compatriots than they used to. 

In Ukraine, the opposite is true. Most Ukrainians’ (70%) attitude towards their fellow citizens drastically improved. They believe the people of their country to be brave, united, caring, supportive, merciful, resilient, free-spirited and hardworking (10-30%).

The people of Russia describe themselves as generous, peaceful, friendly, compassionate, prone to sympathizing with others and enduring hardship.


3% of both Ukrainians and Russians described the people of their respective countries as religious. Both described themselves as kind, cordial and friendly, using adjectives with positive social connotations.

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Mutual support

Love of freedom 

Love for our people 









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Peace-loving nature 









Sorry for no one?

The Russian respondents were asked if they feel sorry for the “common people” of Ukraine and Russia. 53% said they feel compassion for Ukrainians, while 51% are sympathetic towards their fellow Russians. This means that Russians feel equally sorry for themselves (people self-described as happy by 78%) and for their neighbors (people whose country is under attack). 

The level of sympathy displayed by the respondents also correlates with their willingness to host refugees. 30% of those sympathetic towards Ukrainians and unsympathetic towards Russians say they’re willing to host refugees at their homes. Out of those sympathetic towards Russians and unsympathetic towards Ukrainians, 15% say they would host Ukrainian refugees, while 27% say they would welcome refugees from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.  

In the final part of the survey, we asked the respondents what short message they would send to common Ukrainians or Russians if given the chance. 

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Messages across borders 
From Russians to Ukrainians: 

We’re on your side 

Stay strong 

We’ve come to liberate you 

Come to your senses 

We’re one nation

Open your eyes 

You have to endure it 

 War is hard 

Help Russian soldiers 

There’s no one to blame but yourselves 


We want peace 

Lay down your weapons 

Stop being Nazis 

There’s nothing to say 

Fight your government 

From Ukrainians to Russians: 

We'll never forgive

Open your eyes 

Fight your government 

           We want peace 

Take your men home 

Get the hell out of Ukraine 

There’s nothing to say 

You’re morons 

    Don’t watch the TV 

Follow the Russian warship 

Ukraine will win

Be humane 

We want
you to die 

Come to your senses 

Leave us alone 

Understand what’s really happening 

Do Russians think they’re responsible for the war in Ukraine? 

43% of Russian respondents said that Russians are morally responsible for the “special operation” in Ukraine, while 48% denied such responsibility. 42% of Russians feel personally responsible for the “military operation”, while 49% don’t. Residents of the Central Federal District reported feeling personal responsibility more frequently than expected (60%). 54% of Russian men over 55 believe they are responsible for the war. Most female and male respondents aged between 18 and 34 don’t hold themselves personally responsible for the events in Ukraine (60%-61%). 


The respondents who feel personally responsible for the “military operation” expressed stronger preoccupation with the events in Ukraine and are more willing to host refugees at their homes. They are also more likely to condemn the “operation” and advocate a ceasefire. These respondents also argue or fight with their loved ones about politics more frequently than other respondents. 

War, hooray! Come stay with us 

Over 50% of Russians said they feel positively about the “special operation”, naming such feelings as pride, trust, and a sense of justice. 10% of Russians admitted to feeling profoundly ashamed. 


When asked why most refugees choose to flee to Europe and not to Russia, most Russian respondents surmised that the Ukrainian military doesn’t let the refugees go to Russia (37%) and that Ukrainians see Russia as the enemy (36%). 

A minority of Russians think that Ukrainians choose not to go to Russia out of fear of persecution (16%) and because European countries offer better conditions (16%). 

Vicarious warriors?

We looked into the group of respondents who replied “definitely yes” to the question “Do you feel like you have control over your life?” and “I wouldn’t” to “If you had the power to stop the special operation right now, would you do it?”

It turns out that these respondents are people over 35, mostly male, with an average or high income, who weren’t affected by the military action and don’t suffer panic attacks or depressive episodes. 

The level of happiness displayed by these war supporters is 92%. 

Strangely enough, 16% of those who wouldn’t stop the war if given the chance say they don’t support the “military operation”. How can that be, you ask? Well, turns out it can. 

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