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‘Final Judgment will come for them all’ - What Do Russians Think About Nuclear War?

Research Overview
July 24, 2022

Abstract: In Russia, both supporters and opponents of the war in Ukraine express fear about the possibility of using nuclear weapons. Despite their position towards the war, Russians want it to end more quickly "for the return of stability and predictability of life."

Section 1. Executive Summary

  • Qualitative focus group studies conducted by representatives of the Russian opposition show both supporters and opponents express fear about the possibility of using nuclear weapons. People who approve of Russia's aggression call such a course of events a "negative scenario." Also, both consider the shortage of medicines an important topic, especially for people with chronic diseases.

  • According to the “Chronica” study, since May 2022, people’s support for the war started decreasing slightly. Russians began to experience such circumstances as insecurity, closed borders, and economic instability. Supporters of the war replied that they may stop supporting it if it drags on and/or Russia loses.

  • The OMI study showed that the attitude is related to the level of material well-being: the higher it is, the more likely a person supports the war.

  • A focus group study shows that opponents of the war with Ukraine are aware that it will last a long time - at least until the end of this year or even several years. They confirmed that the best way to open people’s eyes to the negative side of war is its straight interference into their lives.

  • According to the focus group study supporters of the war, despite their position, want it to end more quickly "for the return of stability and predictability of life." They are scared of the prolongation because it may bring mobilization, as well as worsening their material well-being as well as the general situation in the economy.

Section 2. Key Findings

  • The Chronicle project reports that support for the war has fallen to 55% since May.

  • Only 8.4% are ready to give 10% or more of their income to the army.

  • In reality, about 3% of Russians want "victory over the Nazis", others want security, economic well-being, and the desire to travel abroad - that is, peace, not victory.

  • People whose financial situation has worsened are significantly less likely to support the war, regardless of their current income level.

  • In all focus groups, supporters of the war are generally against their relatives being mobilized and sent to serve in Ukraine.

  • Supporters and opponents of the war in focus groups sometimes agree that they are afraid of China (they assess its desire to seize Siberia and the east of Russia as highly probable).

Section 3. Conclusion

  • For the first 4 months of the war, polls and research have shown relatively stable support for the war among Russians. But after June, the situation seems to be changing: support is decreasing, and protest moods are growing as much as dissatisfaction with the government.

  • Among the crucial factors here are worsening conditions of everyday life and the prolongation of the “SMO.” Many Russians wish things to get back to normal.

  • The majority of respondents are united in their negative position about nuclear weapons.