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Do Ukrainians share the narratives of the "split": results of a telephone survey conducted on September 7-13, 2022

The press release was prepared by Anton Hrushetskyi, the Deputy Director of KIIS

 

From September 7 to 13, 2022, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". By the method of computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 2,000 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except AR of Crimea) were interviewed. The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 and older) citizens of Ukraine who, at the time of the survey, lived on the territory of Ukraine (within the boundaries controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were not temporarily controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022 (AR of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), and the survey was not conducted with citizens who left the country after February 24, 2022.

Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 2.4% for indicators close to 50%, 2.1% for indicators close to 25%, 1.5% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.1% - for indicators close to 5%.

Under conditions of war, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. In particular, if back in May, among all the respondents we interviewed, 2.5-4% lived in the territories occupied after February 24 (and this corresponded to the percentage of those who live there, because the generation of telephone numbers was random), now, due to the occupiers turning off the telephone connection we managed to interview fewer respondents living in occupied settlements, in particular, their number is 0.3%. It is important to note that although the views of the respondents who lived in the occupation were somewhat different, the general tendencies were quite similar. That is, the impossibility of interviewing such respondents does not significantly affect the quality of the results. There are other factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions (see Annex 2).

In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative and allow a fairly reliable analysis of public attitudes.

 

An approach to the research of the prevalence of narratives of "split" in Ukrainian society

 

All-Ukrainian surveys conducted after the full-scale invasion of Russia testify to the high cohesion of Ukrainian society and even overcoming long-standing interregional differences on certain issues (for example, regarding the foreign policy vector[1]).

At the same time, the information war and the attempt to plant pro-Russian narratives among the population of Ukraine continues, and Russia does not stop trying to destructively influence the thoughts and views of ordinary citizens of our country. In May 2022, KIIS survey showed that Russian propaganda "lost" in interpretations of the war and that Ukrainians fully share the pro-Ukrainian view on it[2]. Simultaneously another important vector of Russian propaganda concerns not so much attempts to convince Ukrainians of a certain perception of the war, but rather attempts to split Ukrainian society along different lines.

We singled out 7 such possible "split lines" which narratives circulate in Ukrainian society (we do not pretend to list all the split lines exhaustively, but we believe that it covers quite visible narratives in the media space):

  • "There is a serious conflict between the political and military leadership of Ukraine";
  • "The leadership of Ukraine does not pay due attention to our defenders, they are thrown into battle without training and support";
  • "Officials profit from the war and steal Western weapons";
  • "The authorities of Ukraine are ready to make unacceptable compromises with Russia";
  • "The West is tired of Ukraine and wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia";
  • "It is necessary to immediately search for and punish those guilty of possible miscalculations in preparation for war, even at the cost of unity in society";
  • "Inhabitants who still live in the territories occupied after February 24 are mostly collaborators or are indifferent to Ukraine".

 

For each "split line", we formulated two statements that are opposite interpretations, one of which indicates that the respondent agrees that there is such a "split", and the second - that, on the contrary, there is no "split". The respondent had to choose one of the statements with which he/she agreed to a greater extent, and also indicate whether he/she completely agreed or only slightly agreed. To minimize the order effect, all 7 pairs of statements were read to different respondents in a different order, and "inside" each pair of statements were also read in a different order.

After receiving the results, we also conducted additional analysis, which showed that the answers to the first three lines of the "split line" are closely correlated, that is, behind them there is a common factor, which can be tentatively called "Unity and dedication of the military-political leadership to victory in the war." The connections between other statements are more contradictory and ambiguous, so it is advisable to analyze them separately. Below, all "split lines" are separately analyzed in general and by certain important socio-demographic categories.

 

. "Unity and dedication of the military-political leadership to victory in the war"

 

In general, it can be stated that the majority of Ukrainians positively assess the unity of the leadership of Ukraine and the dedication to the goal of winning the war. However, a fairly significant share of Ukrainians believe and agree with the narratives of the "split" on these issues (14-29%) or do not have a crystallized opinion (15-20%).

Relatively least common is the narrative about "serious conflicts between the political and military leadership" - this is what 14% of respondents believe. In return 71% of respondents believe that the military and political leadership act in harmony with the common goal of victory.

More common is the narrative that "leadership doesn't pay enough attention to our defenders," believed by 24% of respondents. The majority - 60% - believe that the leadership "to the extent possible shows due attention to the defenders".

Relatively the most respondents believe in the narrative that officials profit from the war and steal Western weapons – 29%. However, even in this case, there are significantly more those who believe that weapons "are not stolen, but are used by our defenders" – 51%. Although in this case there are also the most those who are undecided (20%).

 

Graph .1. Pairs of statements regarding "Dedication of the military-political leadership to victory in the war"

 

 

Responses to these three were combined into a single index ranging from 0 (the respondent believes that there are conflicts within the leadership, that the leadership does not pay due attention to the defenders, and that officials steal Western weapons) to 100 (the respondent believes that there is no conflict within the leadership, leadership pays due attention to defenders and that Western weapons are not stolen). In general, 63% of respondents hold the view that the military-political leadership demonstrates unity and dedication to victory in the war. The number of those who view the situation negatively and, on the contrary, see "splits" is 4 times smaller – 16%. Another 20% have intermediate / average grades.

 

 


Graph .2. Index of "Unity and dedication of the military-political leadership to victory in the war"

 

 

In Table I.1, the data are given in the regional dimension, as well as in the section of linguistic and ethnic categories of the population. As can be seen, in all regions and among all linguistic and ethnic categories, the vast majority positively assess the unity and dedication of the military-political leadership to victory in the war. Thus, depending on the region, the indicator varies from 61% in the West to 70% in the East (and only from 21% in the West to 13% in the East share the "split" narrative). As for linguistic and ethnic categories, even among Russian-speaking Russians, 57% give positive assessments (and believe in "splits" – 21%).

Similar evaluations can be observed for individual pairs of statements. For example, depending on the region, 68-73% believe that there is no conflict between the political and military leadership of Ukraine. The same applies to linguistic and ethnic categories.

 

Table I.1 Pairs of statements regarding the "Unity and dedication of the military-political leadership to victory in the war" in the section of individual categories of the population

% in the column West Center South East Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians Bilingual Ukrainians Russian-speaking Ukrainians Russian-speaking Russians
Composite index value                
The leadership is united and dedicated 61 64 62 70 61 64 66 57
Intermediate grades 18 23 20 18 22 20 19 22
There is a "split" 21 13 18 13 17 16 15 21
Pair 1                
There are serious conflicts between the political leadership of the country (President, Government, etc.) and the army command, the parties pursue different interests 13 14 15 14 13 15 13 20
The political leadership of Ukraine (President, Government, etc.) and the command of the army act in harmony as one team with the common goal of winning the war 73 72 68 72 73 71 72 62
Difficult to say / Refusal 14 14 18 14 14 14 15 18
Pair 2                
The leadership of Ukraine does not pay due attention to our defenders - they are often left unprepared, without ammunition and without support 25 23 27 24 23 24 25 26
To the extent possible, the leadership of Ukraine pays due attention to the needs of our defenders 59 61 59 62 60 59 64 65
Difficult to say / Refusal 16 16 14 14 16 17 11 9
Pair 3                
Ukrainian officials profit from the war and many Western weapons are stolen and do not reach our defenders 36 26 28 24 29 26 29 31
Western weapons are not stolen in Ukraine, but are used by our defenders to defend the country 48 53 49 55 52 51 53 39
Difficult to say / Refusal 16 21 23 21 19 23 18 30

 


. "The authorities of Ukraine are ready to make unacceptable compromises with Russia"

 

Only 5% of Ukrainians share the narrative of the "treacherous" government, which is "ready and able to make compromises with Russia unacceptable for Ukraine." In return 87% of Ukrainians believe that the Ukrainian authorities will not make unacceptable compromises.

 

Graph .1. Pair of statements regarding the readiness of the Ukrainian authorities to make unacceptable concessions

 

 

In all regions, at least 80% believe that the government will not make unacceptable compromises (from 91% in the West to 80% in the East think so). Only 3-9%, depending on the region, believe that the authorities can make such compromises.

 

Table II.1 Pairs of statements regarding the readiness of the authorities of Ukraine to make unacceptable concessions by individual categories of the in the section of separate categories of the population population

% in the column West Center South East Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians Bilingual Ukrainians Russian-speaking Ukrainians Russian-speaking Russians
Pair                
The authorities of Ukraine are ready and can make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 3 6 5 9 5 5 7 5
The authorities of Ukraine are not going to and will not make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 91 86 86 80 87 87 86 79
Difficult to say / Refusal 7 7 8 12 7 8 7 16

"The West is tired of Ukraine and wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia"

 

Also, only 15% of Ukrainians believe that the West is tired of Ukraine and wants Ukraine to negotiate with Russia. Simultaneously 73% of Ukrainians believe that the West continues to support Ukraine and expects the war to end on terms acceptable to Ukraine.

 

Graph .1. Pair of statements about the readiness of the West to continue supporting Ukraine

 

 

And in this case, we see a general unity of views of residents of different regions - from 67% in the West to 75% in the East believe that the West continues to actively support Ukraine (at the same time, the narrative of "split" that the West is tired is shared by 13-18%, depending on the region).

 

Table .1 Pairs of statements regarding the West's readiness to further support Ukraine in the section of separate categories of the population

% in the column West Center South East Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians Bilingual Ukrainians Russian-speaking Ukrainians Russian-speaking Russians
Pair                
The West is getting tired of Ukraine and its support is weak. The West wants to press for Ukraine to make concessions to Russia 18 15 13 15 16 13 16 9
The West continues to seriously help Ukraine to the extent possible. The West wants the war to end on terms acceptable to Ukraine 67 76 75 75 73 77 72 74
Difficult to say / Refusal 15 9 12 10 11 10 12 17

V. "It is necessary to immediately search for and punish those guilty of possible miscalculations in preparation for war, even at the cost of unity in society"

 

31% of respondents, even at the cost of possible conflicts and threats to unity, are ready to support initiatives to prosecute those involved in possible miscalculations in the preparation for war. However, the majority (58%) still believe that these issues should be postponed to the period after the war, so as not to provoke conflicts within the country.

 

Graph V.1. Pair of statements regarding the need to punish those responsible for preparing for war

 

 

In all regions, the majority (56-64%) believes that this issue should be postponed to the post-war period.

 

Table IV.1 Pairs of statements regarding the need to punish those responsible for preparing for war in the section of separate categories of the population

% in the column West Center South East Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians Bilingual Ukrainians Russian-speaking Ukrainians Russian-speaking Russians
Pair                
It is necessary to bring to justice right now all those involved in possible miscalculations in the preparation of Ukraine for war, even if this provokes conflicts within the country and threatens unity 33 33 30 24 33 30 28 29
Those involved in possible miscalculations in Ukraine's preparations for war should be brought to justice after the victory, because now it can provoke conflicts within the country and threaten unity 56 57 60 64 58 60 61 56
Difficult to say / Refusal 10 10 11 12 10 10 11 15

 

V. "Inhabitants who still live in the territories occupied after February 24 are mostly collaborators or are indifferent to Ukraine"

 

Only 12% of respondents are critical of those who continue to live in the territories occupied after February 24, and consider them collaborators or indifferent to Ukraine. The vast majority (72%) consider them victims of circumstances and believe that they want the return of Ukraine's control over the occupied territories.

 

Graph V.1. A couple of statements regarding the attitude to those who remained in the occupied territory after February 24

 

 

Depending on the region, 63-81% consider residents of the territories occupied after February 24 victims of circumstances, and no more than 7-17% consider them collaborators or indifferent to Ukraine.

 


Table V.1 Pairs of statements regarding the need to punish those responsible for preparing for war in the section of separate categories of the population

% in the column West Center South East Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians Bilingual Ukrainians Russian-speaking Ukrainians Russian-speaking Russians
Pair                
The majority of residents who still live in the territories occupied after February 24 continue to live there because they really support the Russians or simply do not care about Ukraine 17 11 7 10 14 8 10 18
Most of the residents who still live in the territories occupied after February 24 are victims of circumstances, and they would like the return of Ukraine's control over these territories 63 72 79 81 68 79 80 63
Difficult to say / Refusal 20 17 14 9 18 13 10 19

 

 

A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:

 

Ukrainians, for the most part, do not share the narratives of "split" that agents of Russian influence are trying to instill in us. Relevant narratives can be broadcast both by openly Russian and pro-Russian agents of influence, and by Ukrainian politicians, experts, and journalists, who may not be fully aware of the far-reaching consequences of their publicly expressed "views." Critically important is the absolute belief that the authorities will not "surrender" the interests of Ukraine, as well as the belief of the vast majority that the political and military leadership are acting in harmony (although this very topic is attacked by irresponsible Ukrainian subjects who do more harm than the Russians to the unity of Ukraine).

At the same time, the fact that a third of the respondents want to bring to justice right now for possible miscalculations in the preparation for the war shows the need for continued balanced and reasoned communication on the part of the authorities. After all, the majority of the population has social unity as a priority, which allows channeling this issue into the future after victory. However, it is not necessary to assume that there are no problems at the moment, since once again targeted media activity can once again stir up the public with the demand for "punishment".

 It is also important to continue activities to convince the population that the West remains a reliable partner of Ukraine.

A potential weak point could be the narrative of "Western arms theft". Ukrainians usually tend to overestimate the prevalence of corruption, and in this matter more than a quarter of citizens also see "Ukrainian officials profiting from the war." This narrative needs to be debunked by any means possible.

And finally, in the situation of de-occupation, it is important to understand that the majority of citizens in the territories occupied after February 24 are victims of circumstances who are actually waiting for the Ukrainian armed forces and want liberation. Episodes of cooperation with the occupiers should be investigated and punished, but it should be remembered that the majority of residents are our fellow citizens and patriots. The narrative about the "predominance of collaborators and traitors" will make it difficult to return the territories under the authority of Ukraine and threaten the strengthening of unity.

 

          

Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire

 

Ukrainian society actively discusses various issues related to the internal situation, as well as relations with Western partners. I will read you pairs of statements, and you tell which statement do you agree with the most. AFTER THE RESPONDENT CHOOSES THE STATEMENT: You completely agree or rather agree with it? RANDOMIZATION OF READING PAIRS OF STATEMENTS AND "INSIDE" PAIRS OF INDIVIDUAL STATEMENTS

 

SCALE OF ANSWERS FOR EACH PAIR

Completely agree with statement #1 1
Rather agree with statement #1 2
Completely agree with statement #2 3
Rather agree with statement #2 4
DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ) 5
REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ) 6

 

PAIR 1

The West is getting tired of Ukraine and its support is weak. The West wants to press for Ukraine to make concessions to Russia 1
The West continues to seriously help Ukraine to the extent possible. The West wants the war to end on terms acceptable to Ukraine 2

 

PAIR 2

Ukrainian officials profit from the war and many Western weapons are stolen and do not reach our defenders 1
Western weapons are not stolen in Ukraine, but are used by our defenders to defend the country 2

 

PAIR 3

There are serious conflicts between the political leadership of the country (President, Government, etc.) and the army command, the parties pursue different interests 1
The political leadership of Ukraine (President, Government, etc.) and the command of the army act in harmony as one team with the common goal of winning the war 2

 

PAIR 4

The authorities of Ukraine are ready and can make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 1
The authorities of Ukraine are not going to and will not make compromises with Russia that are unacceptable for Ukraine 2

 

PAIR 5

The leadership of Ukraine does not pay due attention to our defenders - they are often left unprepared, without ammunition and without support 1
The leadership of Ukraine pays due attention to the needs of our defenders to the extent possible 2

 

PAIR 6

It is necessary to bring to justice right now all those involved in possible miscalculations in the preparation of Ukraine for war, even if this provokes conflicts within the country and threatens unity 1
Those involved in possible miscalculations in Ukraine's preparations for war should be brought to justice after the victory, because now it can provoke conflicts within the country and threaten unity 2

 

PAIR 7

The majority of residents who still live in the territories occupied after February 24 continue to live there because they really support the Russians or simply do not care about Ukraine 1
Most of the residents who still live in the territories occupied after February 24 are victims of circumstances, and they would like the return of Ukraine's control over these territories 2

 

 

 


Annex 2. Methodological comments on the representativeness of telephone surveys conducted during the war

 

Even before the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, there were a number of factors that negatively affected the representativeness of the polls (for example, the absence of a census for more than 20 years). A full-scale war, of course, greatly affects representativeness and complicates the work of sociologists, but does not make it impossible. Access to reliable data on the state of public moods remains relevant both for Ukrainians themselves and for our foreign partners (who, as the events of the past 5 months have shown, often underestimated and did not understand Ukraine and Ukrainians).

At the same time, in order to maintain objectivity, it is necessary to understand what limitations the war imposes on the conduct of sociological surveys. First of all, we pay attention to large-scale population movements. At the beginning of July, EU representatives estimated that 3.2-3.7 million Ukrainians - adults and children - are currently in these countries. There is no exact data on how many of them are adult citizens, but, most likely, it is about half. In addition, some Ukrainians left for other countries, except for the EU. In particular, a significant number of Ukrainians were forcibly deported to Russia and Belarus (according to some estimates, about 1 million). Among the approximately 30 million adult citizens (estimated at the time of the full-scale invasion), it can be roughly estimated that about 10% have left the country, and the method of telephone interviews cannot provide a reliable survey of these citizens. Even more citizens have become internally displaced persons, but they have a much smaller impact on the quality of telephone surveys, since almost all of these citizens have mobile phones and are reachable to participate in the survey (in fact, 14% of the respondents of this survey are IDPs).

Another important issue is the accessibility for the survey of the population of the territories that were occupied after February 24, 2022, due to the conduct of intensive military operations or due to interruptions in telephone communication. Now there is practically no connection. In May, 2.5-4% of respondents lived in these territories, now in the sample of residents of these territories - 0.2%. But it should be taken into account that a significant part of the population continues to leave these territories, therefore, most likely, no more than 1.5-2.5% of the total adult population of Ukraine are inaccessible due to communication problems.

In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness can have either a generally lower willingness of citizens with "pro-Russian" moods to participate in surveys, or the insincerity of those who did take part in the survey (given the obvious facts and prevailing opinions in the media regarding the Russian invasion , some citizens will not want to say what they really think "in public"). If to talk about the general willingness of respondents to participate in the survey, then in recent surveys we see either the same indicators or slightly lower (although it should be borne in mind that the lower willingness to participate of "pro-Russian"-minded citizens can be compensated by the higher willingness to participate of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens).

We conducted a small methodological experiment in May, which shows that the citizens who are currently participating in the polls in terms of demographic characteristics and meaningful moods are close to those who participated in the polls until February 24, 2022. Preliminarily, we see some shift in the direction of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens, which is reflected in up to 4-6% deviations for individual questions (in the direction of more frequent selection of answers that correspond to the "pro-Ukrainian" interpretation of events). In our opinion, this is a rather optimistic indicator in the current conditions. However, this experiment does not give an answer as to how sincere the respondents are now in their answers.

Taking into account our own observations and the experience of conducting surveys over many years, we still remain optimistic that, for the most part, respondents answer the questions sincerely. For example, the "imagined acquaintance" experiment shows little difference with the direct question. In addition, we assume that the demographic categories of citizens who have gone abroad and are unreachable for a telephone survey, at least now, do not differ very significantly in terms of a number of meaningful moods from similar demographic categories of citizens who have remained in Ukraine.

As a result, in our opinion, we should talk about a certain decrease in representativeness and an increase in error (in addition to the previously mentioned formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added due to the factors considered above), but at the same time, the obtained results still retain high representativeness and allow for a fairly reliable analysis of public moods of the population.



[1] Geopolitical orientations of residents of Ukraine: results of a telephone survey conducted on July 6-20, 2022 // https://kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1125&page=2

[2] Perception index of the Russian-Ukrainian war: results of a telephone survey conducted on May 19-24, 2022 // https://kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1113&page=4


19.9.2022
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