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Poll: Most Finns believe Russians bear collective guilt for not resisting the war, back Ukraine’s NATO aspirations

Finns overwhelmingly back Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. 55% said Ukraine would make a good future NATO member
Flags of Ukraine and Finland. Illustrative image:
Poll: Most Finns believe Russians bear collective guilt for not resisting the war, back Ukraine’s NATO aspirations

A new public opinion survey by the EVA think tank reveals steadfast Finnish support for Ukraine, as Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its second winter. The poll of over 2,000 Finnish adults finds a resolve that Ukraine must prevail militarily and see justice, while Russia is viewed as an unstable and dangerous pariah state.

Russia in Finnish eyes: unstable, expansive, militarily threatening and collectively guity

The war has cemented overwhelmingly negative Finnish perceptions of Russia as unstable and untrustworthy (93%), bent on expansion (89%), and a major military threat (85%). 48% view Russia as on the verge of civil war. And only 3% see it as a developing democracy; essentially no one sees any democratic progress in Russia. 92% see it as a centralized dictatorship. That is, nearly all Finns view Russia as autocratic and repressive. Almost no economic optimism about Russia.

With the war dragging on, sympathy for ordinary Russians is declining. 62% now say regular Russians bear some collective guilt for not resisting the war, a harsher stance than last spring. 22% say ordinary Russians can’t be expected to resist war, down from 53% in 2022.

At the same time, 62% value Russian culture, maintaining some cultural appreciation. 33% see Russians as likeable people, down from 58% in 2022, indicating growing antipathy.

Finnish attitude towards Ukraine’s NATO accession and peace

While ambivalent on fast-tracking EU membership for Ukraine, Finns overwhelmingly back Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. 55% said Ukraine would make a good future NATO member, with only 15% opposed. Still, 56% say Ukraine would fit well as EU member, indicating openness to Ukraine joining long-term.

The survey asked respondents to look ahead, envisioning what would need to happen for a lasting peace to be possible. Four key conditions relate directly to the war’s outcome and aftermath:

  • An overwhelming 84% said it is essential and 6% useful that nuclear weapons are not used. This eclipses all other factors in importance.
  • 63% called it essential and 27% useful that the threat of the war spreading to other countries is removed.
  • 57% deemed it essential and 26% useful that Russia loses the war and withdraws from Ukraine.
  • 56% said Ukraine regaining all territory seized by Russia since February 2022 is essential, with 28% more saying it is useful.
  • Equally crucial to the Finnish public is justice and accountability. 63% called it essential and 27% useful that those guilty of war crimes are brought to trial. Half said Russia paying reparations for rebuilding Ukraine is essential, and another 32% useful.
  • Signaling the need for fundamental change in Russia, 51% called regime change there essential for achieving durable peace.

When asked directly about the territorial compromises Ukraine might consider, 38% said it is essential and 42% useful that Ukraine regains all occupied areas, including Crimea. Just 10% called some Ukrainian concessions essential for peace.

75% are satisfied with Finnish officials’ actions regarding Ukraine, showing broad approval of Finland’s stance on the war.

In summary, after 18 months of war, Finns remain strongly behind Ukraine and demand accountability. For most, only complete Russian withdrawal and fundamental political change in Moscow will suffice for lasting peace.

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