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Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities: continuation of the armed struggle or transition to negotiations

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


During October 21-23, 2022, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". Bythemethodofcomputer-assistedtelephoneinterviews(CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,000 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 3.4% for indicators close to 50%, 3.0% for indicators close to 25%, 2.1% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.5% - 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 disconnection of telephone communication by the occupiers, 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 moods of the population.


How to react to Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities - continue armed resistance or proceed to negotiations


Despite Russian shelling that destroys infrastructure and takes people's lives, 86% of respondents answered that it is necessary to continue the armed struggle anyway, even if shelling continues. In particular, 71% among them fully agree with this opinion (the remaining 16% rather agree).

Instead, only 10% of respondents answered that it is necessary to proceed to negotiations to stop the shelling as soon as possible, even if it is necessary to make concessions to Russia.


Graph 1. Recently, Russia has been actively shelling Ukrainian cities with missiles, kamikaze drones, etc. Which of these statements best describes your thoughts on this matter?



On graph 2, the data are shown in regional dimensions, depending on where the respondents lived at the time of the survey. Although the share of those who are ready to make concessions is increasing from West to East, but in all regions, the majority is of the opinion that armed resistance should be continued. Even in the East, 69% hold this opinion (this corresponds to people living in the Kharkiv and Donetsk oblasts, which are subject to constant rocket and artillery shelling).


Graph2. Continuation of the struggle or concessions in the regional dimension (where the respondents currently live)



On graph 3, the data are shown in the section of those who chose Ukrainian or Russian for the interview. Among the respondents who chose the Russian language for the interview, the vast majority (66%) also believe that armed resistance should be continued, even if shelling continues (and only 29% believe that negotiations should be started, even if concessions have to be made).


Graph3. Continuation of the fight or concession depending on the chosen language of the interview



A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:


If the purpose of terrorist shelling of Ukrainian cities for Russia was to sow panic, despair and force Ukrainians to surrender, then we once again see how Russia "brilliantly" realizes its goals.

Yes, the terror continues, people die or are injured, Ukrainian families are forced to spend their evenings in the dark. However, the national pain from losses and destruction does not frighten people, but is channeled "into anger and rage against enemies." The Ukrainian people maintain strong unity and stability and are ready to continue the struggle to victory.



Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire


Recently, Russia has been actively shelling Ukrainian cities with missiles, kamikaze drones, etc. Which of these statements best describes your thoughts on this matter? : ? ֲ̲

(% )

100% in the column Region: where live at the time of the survey Ukraine as a whole West[1] Center South East
It is necessary to continue armed resistance to Russian aggression, even if shelling of Ukrainian cities continues 86 88 89 86 69
Completely agree 71 73 75 68 59
Rather agree 15 15 14 18 9
It is necessary to proceed to negotiations in order to stop the shelling of cities as soon as possible, even if this means making concessions to Russia 10 8 6 12 29
Completely agree 6 4 4 7 14
Rather agree 4 3 2 5 15



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 recent 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. In September, the UN report mentioned 7.4 million Ukrainian refugees. Obviously, due to various reasons, it is difficult to consider these data to be unequivocally accurate, but in general, the rather significant scale of departure from the country is clear. There is no exact data on how many of them are adult citizens, but, most likely, it is about half. Among about 30 million adult citizens (estimated at the time of the full-scale invasion), it can be roughly estimated that about 13-15% have left the country, and it is impossible to reliably survey these citizens using telephone interviews. 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, 16% of the respondents of this survey are IDPs).

Another important problem 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 connection. 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 - 0.3%. According to our current estimates, the territory occupied by Russia as of the beginning of September (occupied after February 24, 2022) accounted for about 9% of the total adult population. Taking into account the mass exodus of the population from these territories (most likely, we are talking about at least half of the population), we estimate that no more than 3-5% of the total adult population of Ukraine were inaccessible due to connection problems. Successful actions and the liberation of a number of territories in the Kharkiv region further reduce this percentage.

In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness can be either a generally lower willingness of citizens with "pro-Russian" attitudes to participate in surveys, or the insincerity of those who did take part in the survey (taking into account 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 somewhat lower (although it should be borne in mind that the lower willingness to participate of "pro-Russian" citizens can be compensated by the higher willingness to participate of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens).

We conducted a methodical experiment in May, which shows that the citizens who are currently participating in the surveys in terms of demographic characteristics and substantive attitudes are close to those who participated in the surveys 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, in the current conditions, this is a rather optimistic indicator. However, this experiment does not give an answer as to how sincere the respondents are now in their answers.

[1] The composition of the macroregions is as follows: Western macroregion – Volyn, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Zakarpattia, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi oblasts; Central macroregion – Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Cherkasy, Kyiv oblasts, Kyiv city, Southern macroregion – Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Odesa oblasts, Eastern macroregion – Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.

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