87% of Russians approve potential military attack on EU countries – survey

Russians

Vladimir Putin addresses pro-war rally on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow. Photo: kremlin.ru 

International, Russian Aggression

Article by: Christine Chraibi

A recent survey conducted by the Ukrainian research company Active Group  shows that 86.6% of Russians support the idea of launching an attack on a country of the European Union, including Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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Image: Active Group

More explicitly, the question concerned Russia’s right to use direct military action in order “to force other countries to abandon their support for the Nazis in Ukraine?”  86.6% of respondents approve  military aggression against other countries to some extent: 40.6% replied positively, 40% were undecided; only 13.4% gave a negative answer.

Pursuing the idea of Russian aggression, the interviewers asked respondents what countries should come under Russian influence, “including by military means”. It was not surprising to see that most respondents named the former Soviet bloc countries.

75.5% of Russians approve the idea of launching a military invasion of another EU country, namely Poland. The respondents state that this would be a logical continuation of Putin’s “special military operation after the denazification of Ukraine”.

Respondents name three countries that Russia should target first: Poland (75.5%), the Baltic States (41%), Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (39.6%).

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Moreover, three-quarters (75%) of the Russian population variably accept Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

Only 25.5% of Russians strongly oppose the use of nuclear weapons. 40.3% consider a nuclear attack totally acceptable, and 34.3% approve such a decision to some extent.

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The survey was conducted on 11-14 March, 2022 using the CATI method (telephone interview with computer). In total, 1,557 respondents were interviewed.

The interviewers used Viber messenger according to a specific research methodology (respondents of constituent subjects of the Russian Federation, sex and age). The Russian language was employed and terminology was changed to suit the respondents’ environment, for example, “special operation” instead of “invasion” and “war”, Ukrainians were referred to as “Nazis” etc.

In conclusion, Active Group founder Andriy Yeremenko noted that Russian public opinion may reflect and influence the Kremlin’s future actions.

We get the impression that the Russian respondents are aggressive not only towards Ukraine, but also towards the EU. Upon hearing the topic, they either refused to respond to the questions or declared their full support for further Russian incursions into other countries.” comments Yeremenko.

On 26-28 February 2022, a survey conducted by the independent research group Russian Field and Russian political activist Maxim Katz found that close to 60% of Russians support Putin’s war against Ukraine. Approximately 50% of the Russian population have a more positive opinion of Putin while only 23% of Russians express a negative attitude toward the Kremlin leader.

On 4 March, two Russian pollsters – VTsIOM and FOM – published surveys showing that approximately two-thirds of the Russian public support the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

On 17 March, RFE/RL reported the results of two surveys conducted by independent Russian sociologists, one at the end of February and the other one in mid-March 2022. 71% of Russians support Putin’s “special military operation” and feel pride, joy, respect and hope in Russia’s involvement in the war.  

The Russo-Ukrainian war is being waged on many fronts, one of the most important being the information front, also known as “soft power” as opposed to “hard power” military force. To date, thanks to the firm stance taken by the Ukrainian government, as well as strong civil and military resistance, Ukraine has managed to rally worldwide support. This is exemplified by a universal condemnation and a resolution by the UN General Assembly, demanding that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

However, unless that message also penetrates the Russian audience and Russians begin actively rallying against the war, it will not be able to challenge Putin’s regime and topple his government. Sadly, the many polls and surveys conducted since the beginning of the war seem to indicate an opposite trend – growing support for Putin and rising hostility to and distrust of the EU and the United States.

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