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Perceptions of the course of Russia's war against Ukraine after nearly two years of large-scale invasion

The press release was prepared by Anton Hrushetskyi, executive director of KIIS

 

During February 5-10, 2024, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted an all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus", which included questions about the perception of the course of the war. Bythemethodofcomputer-assistedtelephoneinterviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,202 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except 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 Ukrainian authorities until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were temporarily not controlled by the authorities of Ukraine, and the survey was not conducted with citizens abroad.

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 3.2% for indicators close to 50%, 2.7% for indicators close to 25%, 2.1% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.4% - for indicators close to 5%.

Under conditions of war, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. KIIS previously cited factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions.

In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative for the population of Ukraine living in the territory under the control of the Government, and allow a fairly reliable analysis of the public moods of the population.

 


 

 

Who will win the war - Ukraine or Russia

 

Although after almost two years of large-scale invasion, we are observing some decrease in faith in the Victory of Ukraine, but despite everything, the absolute majority of Ukrainians continue to maintain optimism. So, as of the beginning of February 2024, 89% of Ukrainians generally believed in the Victory of Ukraine, in particular, 60% of them were definitely convinced of this. In May 2022, 95% believed in Victory and of them 80% were definitely convinced of it.

Currently, only 4% are rather or definitely convinced that Russia will win (in May 2022 there were 1%).  

 

Graph1. How do you feel, in the end of the war, Ukraine or Russia will win?

 

 


In all regions, at least 80% believe in the Victory of Ukraine and, in particular, at least 57% are definitely convinced of this.

 

Graph2. Opinions on who will win the war, in a regional dimension

 

 


If the Ukrainians "strategically" believe in Victory, they are more restrained regarding the current moment of assessing the situation. So, if you ask in whose favor the situation on the battlefield is currently developing, then 24% believe that it is in favor of Ukraine, 15% - in favor of Russia. At the same time, almost half of Ukrainians (47%) believe that it is not in favor of either party.

 

Graph 3. And if you evaluate the current situation on the battlefield in these weeks, then in your opinion it is developing in favor of

 

 


Residents of different regions have quite similar views on the situation on the battlefield.

 

Graph4. In whose favor is the situation on the battlefield in the regional dimension

 

 


The most realistic result of war

 

Respondents were also asked which outcome of the war they consider to be the most realistic. Five possible scenarios were read to the respondents: from "preserving the statehood and independence of Ukraine, even with forced territorial losses" (which actually corresponds to the fact that it is realistic to hold the territories currently under control) to "the transfer of hostilities to the territory of the Russian Federation" (which corresponds to the complete restoration of territorial integrity and the waging of war already on the territory of Russia.

Compared to May 2022, there are slightly fewer people who consider the scenario of full restoration of territorial integrity to be realistic, but still currently, the vast majority of Ukrainians - 65% - believe that the war will end with the return of all territories to Ukrainian control, including Donbas and Crimea (in particular, 14% believe that hostilities will be transferred to the territory of Russia) (in May 2023, believed in the restoration of integrity - 71%).

At the same time, from 25% in May 2022 to 32% in February 2024, there were more people who admit that there may be some losses as a result of the war. Of these 32%, the largest number (19%) of those who believe that the war will end with the retention of the territories currently under control (in May 2022 there were 6% of them, but since May 2022 Ukraine has liberated a significant part of the territories, i.e. in 2024 the respondents answered in the conditions of the situation on the battlefield, which is significantly different from the situation in May 2022). Another 9% believe in the liberation of all territories controlled by Ukraine by February 24, 2022. The remaining 4% talk about the liberation of all territories together with Donbas, but without Crimea.  

 

Graph5. In your opinion, what looks like the most realistic outcome of the war for Ukraine?

 

 

In all regions, the opinions of the population are quite similar. In particular, in all regions, 63-66% believe in the complete restoration of territorial integrity, while 31-34% believe that there may be some losses.

 

Graph6. The most realistic outcome of the war in the regional dimension

 

 


How much longer are Ukrainians ready to endure war

 

73% of Ukrainians claim that they are ready to endure the war as long as necessary (plus 3% are ready to endure for quite a long time - a year). At the same time, the situation has not changed since May 2022 - in May 2022, 71% were ready to endure as long as necessary, in December 2023 - 73%.

At the same time, 3% are ready to endure another six months, and 18% only a few months.

 

Graph7. How much longer are you ready to endure the war?

 

 


In all regions, a clear majority of residents are ready to endure as long as necessary.

 

Graph8. How long are ready to endure war in the regional dimension

 

 


Openness to the negotiated end of the war

 

With confidence in Victory, Ukrainians remain open to the negotiation process. In May 2022, 59%, and in February 2024, 72% of respondents agreed with the opinion that Ukraine should also look for a diplomatic way to end the war (however, it should be noted that the wording of the question was simply about such a process, and not about concessions).

At the same time, from 35% in May 2022 to 23% in February 2024, there were fewer people who believe that Russia can be defeated only by military means.

 

Graph 9. With which of these points of view do you agree to a greater extent?

 

 


In all regions, most residents are generally open to the diplomatic track.

 

Graph10. Openness to the diplomatic track in the regional dimension

 

 

 

A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:

 

The public mood of Ukrainians is going through a kind of "emotional swing" (this is especially noticeable if to read posts and comments on social media). For example, on the eve of the invasion, in December 2021, only 39% of Ukrainians were optimistic about the future of Ukraine. Three months after the invasion, despite all the difficulties and the genocidal actions of the Russians, 88% were optimistic. In November 2023, the share of optimists dropped to 77% (with a more significant decrease in those who were very optimistic).

If we analyze only the first year of the invasion, we will see a significant, almost unshakable optimism in extremely difficult conditions. If we analyze only the second year of the invasion, we will see a decrease in optimism, an increase in despondency and a readiness to make concessions due to unrealized expectations, an uncertain position of the allies, and an increase in internal problems. Extrapolation into the future of such trends of the second year, of course, does not bode well for us.

Did Ukraine and Ukrainians go from euphoria to decline so quickly? We suggest looking at the picture in a broader context and taking into account all the circumstances. In any case, we would expect a "natural" rollback of extremely high levels of optimism. It is worth asking the question in another way - taking into account all the difficulties of the second year of the invasion, what could the public mood look like? It would be quite plausible to assume the dominance of pessimism, the desire to find peace and the readiness for difficult "compromises".

Are we seeing it now? Although, of course, there are some negative trends, Ukrainians still maintain a surprisingly strong optimism: they believe in Victory, they are ready to endure as much as it takes, they insist on returning the territories as much as possible. The current circumstances may upset some Ukrainians, may even break someone, but in general, the Ukrainian civil nation has taken place, retains power and, most importantly, retains the will to Victory.

 

 

 


           

Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire

Now we would like to talk about a full-scale war with Russia.

 

1. How do you feel, in the end of the war, Ukraine or Russia will win?

1 Definitely Ukraine
2 Rather, Ukraine
3 Rather, Russia
4 Definitely Russia
5 DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ)
6 REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ)

 

2. And if to evaluate the current situation on the battlefield in these weeks, then in your opinion it is developing in favor of

1 Ukraine
2 Russia
3 None of the parties
4 DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ)
5 REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ)

 

3. How much longer are you ready to endure the war?

1 A few months
2 Half year
3 1 year
4 As much as it will take
5 DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ)
6 REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ)

 

4. In your opinion, what looks like the most realistic outcome of the war for Ukraine?

1 The very fact of preserving Ukraine's statehood and independence, even with forced territorial losses
2 Return of the actual borders of Ukraine as of the beginning of the invasion on February 24, 2022
3 Restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including the full return of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
4 Complete restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including the return of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as Crimea
5 Transfer of hostilities to the territory of the Russian Federation
6 DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ)
7 REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ)

 

5. With which of these points of view do you agree to a greater extent? RANDOMIZATION OF STATEMENT READING

1 Ukraine can defeat Russia only by military means, regardless of the number of victims
2 In addition to the military, Ukraine should also look for a diplomatic way to end the war with Russia in order to minimize human casualties
3 DIFFICULT TO SAY (DO NOT READ)
4 REFUSAL TO ANSWER (DO NOT READ)

 


21.2.2024
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