What is the State of Russian Public Opinion Two Years Into the War?

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While aggregate-level trends remain largely stable since the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine, we see a decline in strong support for the war, which by February 2024 hovers at approximately 40%. Meanwhile, strong opposition to the war is at nearly 20%. Many respondents remain in the somewhat support and somewhat oppose categories. Over 10% of respondents say they don't know what to think or prefer not to answer the question.

Younger respondents (18-24) are much less supportive of the war, with less than half saying they support it. It is worth noting that this category of younger respondents is relatively small compared to other age groups. Meanwhile, the vast majority of older Russians claim to support the war.

Trends in nominal support don't perfectly map onto people's preferences for calling off the SMO if they could. Most said they would not, but that number declined in April-June. Many supporters would still call off the war.

Perceptions of the success of the "SMO" are more mixed. A majority think it's going successfully, but only 20% said very successfully. About 40% said somewhat successfully, and this number hasn't changed much in the past 6 months.

Self-reported attention to news about the war has remained fairly high - the vast majority of respondents say that they follow the news somewhat or very closely. In summer '23 there was an uptick in the share who said they weren't following very closely, but not by much.

Since summer 2023, we have also regularly asked about how people perceive the threat that the war poses to them personally. Here, again, the picture is mixed. A plurality of respondents are in the middle of the distribution (somewhat serious or not very serious).

We also regularly ask an "emotions battery" where respondents report how often they experience various emotions when thinking about the SMO. Here we show the share who experience these emotions often or more (4-6 on a 6-pt scale). The majority experience anger and anxiety often, this has been fairly steady over the past year and a half. However, it appears that anger and anxiety increased slightly over the course of 2023. Pride is a bit lower (~50%). Less than half (~40%) of Russians say they feel hope often or more frequently.

Overall, these figures show that while we have not seen many dramatic changes in attitudes toward the war and its consequences, there have been gradual shifts over time. Moreover, it's important to note that "support" is a distribution, and many people fall in the middle whether because they are trying to disconnect themselves from the war or because they are genuinely unsure and conflicted. Despite propaganda and information restrictions, Russians know the war has not been a resounding success for Russia, and many would like to see it end although it's not immediately clear under what conditions they think the war should end. Others seem to remain committed to the war; however, we know that attitudes can change rapidly in response to signals from the Kremlin.

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