In light of the numbers, the majority of Russians still support Putin’s war – an expert tells a fact that could change their position

In Russia the war is visible in the New Years

Support for the war among Russians remains high, according to opinion polls. However, many admit that the war in Ukraine is felt in their own wallets and can be seen in close circles.

The matter is clarified in the report of the NGO Chronicles Report. Chronicles Report is by a Russian activist Aleksei Minjailon started by a project that operates with funding from volunteers. The organization has been conducting surveys on Russians’ views on war since the end of last February.

According to the organization’s most recent poll, 12 percent of the respondents said they knew at least one reservist who had been called up for military service. By the end of October, at least 17 million Russians had experienced the effects of the war in one way or another, Chronicles Report (you will switch to another service) evaluate.

At the same time, the results of three opinion polls show that more than half of Russian respondents still support Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.

However, Russian support for the war will decline in the near future, as more and more people experience the effects of war in their lives, estimates the PhD researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki Margarita Zavadskaya.

– Russia’s propaganda and war machines are already working at their limits. The number of supporters of war may temporarily increase if Russia succeeds in a single attack. However, the number of supporters of the war will probably decrease as the war drags on.

Opinion polls say: Russian support for the war continues

According to the most recent figures from the Levada research center, 71 percent of the 1,600 respondents said they support the activities of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine. The measurement is from December. In March, the figure was 80 percent.

According to state-owned Vtsiom, support for the war has dropped from 73 percent to 70 percent between March and August.

According to Chronicles Report, in March, 63 percent of respondents said they supported the war, while at the end of September, only 51 percent of respondents supported the war.

Far-reaching interpretations of these figures should not be made, states Zavadskaya.

The Russian statistics cannot be interpreted in the same way as the results obtained from Finland.

There are several reasons.

According to Zavadskaya, the numbers of support for the war reported by the Russians could be compared to if the Finns were asked about their support for ecology.

– Many would answer that they consider it important, because opposing ecology is considered absurd. On the other hand, it is not acceptable in Russia to answer that they oppose patriotic values.

The researcher explains that in the democratic West it is not always understood how strongly the authoritarian form of government and the media’s propaganda monopoly shape people’s views in Russia.

People may also be afraid to give an honest answer.

Actual supporters maybe less

The number of Russians who genuinely support the war may be significantly smaller than one could conclude based on a single opinion poll.

Zavadskaya says Russians’ trust in sociological research institutions is weak. Therefore, when asked, opponents of the war do not necessarily want to reveal their opinion for fear of punishment.

The proportion of respondents who support the war can also be highlighted because those who are unsure of their position are likely to rely on the official line of the media.

In Russia, for example, access to Western media is severely restricted, and many people form their opinions on phenomena mainly based on information received from the state media.

Chronicles Report estimates that only about a third of the respondents would actually support the war.

Many declare that they support the war, but only a fraction would be willing to hand over money or participate in war activities.

According to the Chronicles Report, about eight percent of respondents said they were willing to give up more than ten percent of their salary for the military. More than 63 percent of the respondents stated that they would not be willing to give up anything for the sake of the Russian armed forces.

Couch militarists color statistics

The majority of supporters of the war, about 70 percent, consume state television propaganda, according to the measurements of Chronicles Report and Levada.

Levada’s poll shows that men support war more often than women and that people over 50 support war more often than people under 39.

According to a survey conducted by the Conicles Report organization in September, wealthy Russians declared their readiness to fight at the front twice as often as low- and middle-income people.

Therefore, military actions are most likely to be supported by those who have the lowest probability of being on the front.

This is also evident, for example, at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank in the United States from the report (you switch to another service). According to ISW, wealthy cities independent of state subsidies have called up relatively fewer reservists for military service than poor and small cities.

The majority of supporters of the war are over 50 years old. They are not affected by the move, as Russia primarily calls up men under 35 for military service.

Researcher Margarita Zavadskaya estimates that those Russians who have no concrete contact with the war may have the strongest opinions on the matter. Zavadskaya calls such persons “couch militarists”.

– They are often the loudest supporters of the war and defend the war aggressively, for example on the Internet. However, these people often don’t have any contact with the war, for example, no relatives in their immediate circle who are called up.

According to opinion polls, the reason for the war has remained unclear to many Russians

Russia justifies the war to its citizens with, among other things, the alleged Nazi regime in Ukraine, discrimination against Russians, the NATO threat and the decadence of the West.

According to a survey conducted by Chronicles Report in May, 24 percent of those who registered as supporters of the war could not answer why Russia is at war in Ukraine.

Zavadskaya believes that Russia ruthlessly exploits the lack of understanding of its citizens, as during the wars in Afghanistan.

– At that time, Russia strongly appealed to feelings of patriotism and named those who fell in the war as war heroes. Although the reason for the war was unclear to many, the people felt that we were now on the brink of something big and important.

That’s why, even at the moment, many people in Russia do not believe, for example, Ukraine’s claims of 100,000 fallen Russian soldiers, but trust the Ministry of Defense’s claims of a few thousand fallen.

– Accepting reality can be really scary, and no one would like to think that their children are dying for nothing, says Zavadskaya.

Do the Russians want peace?

For many Russians, the war in Ukraine would appear, based on opinion polls, to be some kind of project of the state and the state leadership, and the citizens do not see themselves as a party to the war.

In Levada’s surveys, an average of 60 percent of respondents felt that they are not personally responsible for Russia’s killing of civilians in Ukraine.

According to Chronicles Report, however, many hope for peace.

In the organization’s survey, it was found that 18 percent of the respondents who supported the war declared that they supported peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. 23 percent of war supporters, on the other hand, stated that their position might change to anti-war if the war in Ukraine were to drag on.

Only a vanishingly small minority, around three percent, believed that Russia would defeat “Nazism in Ukraine”.

– The majority of Russians are not bloodthirsty. You have to understand that in Russia people have very few opportunities to influence their own lives, while the state’s violence machine is extremely strong and cruel, says Zavadskaya.

The researcher estimates that this is why many Russians get angry when they are asked to protest on the streets Vladimir Putin war.