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Poll: Majority of Russians see war in Ukraine as 'civilizational struggle with West'

by Nate Ostiller January 10, 2024 11:29 AM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a screen set at Red Square as he addresses a rally marking the illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine Russian troops partly occupy – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia – in central Moscow on Sept. 30, 2022. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)
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A majority (63%) of Russians continue to support the full-scale war against Ukraine, which is viewed by another 64% as symptomatic of a larger "civilizational struggle between Russia and the West," according to a poll released on Jan. 9 by the University of Chicago's nonpartisan National Opinion Research Center (NORC).

The figure represented a slight decrease from a poll conducted by the Russian independent polling organization The Levada Center in November 2023, in which 75% of respondents said they supported the war.

The results of the Jan. 9 poll illustrate a consistent level of support for the full-scale war since its beginning almost two years ago, coupled with a majority of Russians saying that international sanctions had not impacted their personal lives.

At the same time, 55% of Russians said economic issues ranked chief among their primary concerns, but 65% of respondents blamed rising prices on a decline in their personal economic situation. A majority (67%) said they were financially the same or better off compared to two years ago.

Some of the much-lauded efforts to isolate Russia, such as the significantly reduced ability for Russians to travel abroad, appear to have gone largely unnoticed by a majority of Russians, 76% of whom said they were unaffected by the international travel restrictions.

As the Russian presidential election approaches, in which President Vladimir Putin is seeking a 5th term in office, 66% of respondents said they would be "more likely" to vote for him. The level of support was even higher among older generations.

The poll also indicated that Russians are heavily animated by the place of Russia in the world. An overwhelming majority (94%) expressed at least a moderate level of pride in their Russian identity. Another 62% said they believed Russia is treated unfairly in the world.

The "civilizational" framing of the conflict with the West appeared in other contexts as well, with 68% of respondents saying they were concerned that "Western influences, such as LGBTQ, will affect traditional Russian values."

Putin has also characterized the full-scale war on civilizational terms, and has frequently used the perceived "threat" of LGBTQ to drum up support at home.

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