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Poll: Many Ukrainians see war as stalemate but most back fight vs. Russia


KYIV — Nearly half of Ukrainians believe the war with Russia is at a stalemate, according to a new poll, but nearly three-quarters said they were “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that Ukraine “will eventually liberate all of its territories” — a potentially unrealistic expectation but one that suggests little willingness to surrender land now occupied by Moscow’s forces.

The poll, conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) and a Ukrainian sociological research firm, Rating, is one of the most extensive measures of public opinion in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, its organizers said. The poll surveyed 2,000 people across all regions of Ukraine but not those living abroad, where millions have fled.

The survey was conducted in March shortly after Ukrainian troops retreated from the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka, surrendering it to Russian control. Since then, Russia has unleashed a new assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region and made modest but notable territorial advances, which have slowed since supplies of American weapons resumed following approval by Congress in April of a new aid package.

Overall, the poll, which is being published this week, found strong public support for the ongoing war effort and an unwillingness to accept Russia’s core demands, which include the surrender of four regions of southeastern Ukraine. The findings showed “a robust degree of national unity,” according to Eric Ciaramella, one of the principal researchers at CEIP.

Some 44 percent of respondents said they believed that neither Ukraine nor Russia was winning the war, while 41 percent said that Ukraine was winning and just 5 percent that Russia was winning.


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“There’s obviously war fatigue setting in, which is understandable after two-and-a-half years,” Ciaramella said. This has yielded “a greater degree of uncertainty” about “who’s winning” or “what the battlefield is going to look like in a year or two,” he said.

But, Ciaramella said, the views do not “translate into a desire to concede to Russia’s key demands.” He added: “The resilience factor is still there in a remarkable way.”

That resilience, however, may prove unrealistic. In all, 73 percent of respondents were either “very confident in” or “somewhat confident” that Ukraine “will eventually liberate all of its territories,” and 59 percent said they believed the war would continue for less than one year or one to two years.

The survey also found striking new divisions among age groups, with older Ukrainians more optimistic about Ukraine’s chances of prevailing militarily and less willing to seek a compromise with Russia.

More than half of respondents over age 60 — 54 percent — said Ukraine is winning the war, while just 31 percent of those 18 to 25 believed so. Roughly 60 percent of the older group said that Ukraine should not negotiate for peace with Russia, compared to 47 percent of the younger cohort.

This result represents a shift in attitudes, including from before the invasion, when older Ukrainians often expressed more pro-Russian positions, while younger Ukrainians were more Western-leaning and reform-minded, according to Tetiana Skrypchenko, a researcher from the Rating sociological firm.

“Older people … changed their views,” Skrypchenko said. “They think we should fight to the end, join NATO and not go to negotiations.”

While the generational split has been growing since the start of the invasion, it is now far more stark.

“Some kind of social tension and potential social conflict can be growing,” Skrypchenko said. “Younger people want to live their life, and older ones say, ‘No, there is a war going on in our country.’”

Overall, about half the respondents said they thought Ukraine should fight until it liberates all of its territory, including Crimea, which Russia invaded and illegally annexed in 2014. Others were less ambitious, with 12 percent saying Ukraine should fight until it pushes Russian forces back to pre-February 2022 lines.

The results did not differ greatly from earlier surveys but revealed trends within Ukrainian public opinion that have accelerated over the course of the war, and that will potentially limit President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ability to negotiate.

“Ukrainian society’s optimism overall is both an asset and a liability for the Ukrainian leadership,” Ciaramella said.

“It allows Zelensky to project to the world and to the Russians that society has his back, and … when he’s driving a hard bargain, it’s not just him personally — this is not Zelensky’s war,” Ciaramella said. “He has got the entire nation behind him.”

However, Ciaramella said, there appears to be “an unrealistic expectation” among many Ukrainians “of what’s possible from a military standpoint, in the next one to three years.”

“This is still going to be a long slog,” Ciaramella said, adding that the “high expectations” could “lead to some disappointment down the road.”

Ukrainians also remain deeply suspicious of Russia’s motives, with more than 90 percent believing that Russia wants to enter negotiations to give it time for another attack. More than 80 percent said they think Russia will attack again, even if a peace deal is signed.

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