30.11.22 Polls Expertise

Special Operation Frustration

Russians see a war with no end, victories or goals

Nadya Evangelian
Author of the Chronicles project
Andrey Tkachenko
Author of the Chronicles project
Russian citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to find answers for questions regarding the ‘special military operation’, such as when it will end and how well it is going. The number of Russians who are experiencing anxiety and depression is growing. This is according to the latest round of polling by the independent Chronicles project, launched by activist Alexei Minyaylo. Support for the ‘special operation’ hovered around the 51-57% range throughout the summer and autumn, with approximately 50% of respondents expressing approval for mobilisation. To date, support for the ‘special operation’ has been lower in Chronicles' results (conducted via telephone poll) than in other repeated polls: Russian Field has found it to be in the range of 64-69% (telephone poll), and the Levada Center — in the range of 72-77% (face-to-face poll). The difference in results can be explained by the fact that respondents also had the option to select either "I find it difficult to answer" or "I do not want to answer” in Chronicles' polls.

In the latest Chronicle poll, respondents’ outlooks regarding the end of the ‘special operation’ had become more negative: only 22% of respondents expected it to end within six months, 40% — within a year or more, with almost as many (38%) found it difficult to respond. The end of the operation appears to be beyond the realm of understanding for many, and the proportion of respondents who found it difficult to say whether or not its goals are being achieved and to answer the question of how well it is going accounts for more than a third of those surveyed. In turn, the proportion of respondents who, in recent months, felt anxious or depressed rose from 33% to 40%. 

The researchers have identified ‘core supporters’ of the special operation (people who demonstrate a willingness to actively contribute to its success), accounting for about a third of respondents. Thus, from the overall pool of support for the ‘special operation’ (about 54%), a little more than half formed a group of firm supporters, while another 20-25% of respondents appeared to remain loyal to the regime and the normative opinion, rather than actually expressing any sort of agreement with the goals of the ‘special operation’.

Nadia Evangelian and Andrei Tkachenko, analysts for the Chronicles Project, summarise the latest round of data from their study.

Dynamics of ‘special operation’ support and mobilisation approval 

In the opinion poll conducted October 10-16, support for the ‘special operation’ has bounced back (57%), this was after an express opinion poll conducted September 29-30 suggested that support had fallen (51%). However, when comparing these results with the level of support evident in responses to the July poll (55%) and in the express poll from September 21-22 (54%), this change appears statistically insignificant. This increase in support might correlate to the fact that, after mobilisation was announced, young men (especially those who are not in support of the ‘special operation’) were much less inclined to answer calls from unfamiliar phone numbers. As a result, the sample included 2-3 percentage points fewer men aged 18-34, a demographic which is generally less likely to support the operation, and 3 percentage points more men aged 55+, who are more supportive of the ‘special operation’.

Support for ‘special operation’ and approval of mobilisation, % of respondents

Socio-demographic analysis has demonstrated that women are less likely to support the ‘special operation’ than men, and young people are less likely to express support than respondents over the age of 55 (other surveys on this topic have found similar dynamics). These patterns are extremely consistent, with similar results being observed during each of the previous waves of Chronicles polling. Respondents who have experienced a number of issues and difficulties following the beginning of the ‘special operation’ (there is a separate question on this subject in the questionnaire) are much less likely to support it. In the most recent wave of polling, Chronicles have identified several new factors, which show a significant correlation with an increase in support. These included self-identification as belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church, and having relatives and friends in independent Ukraine and in the self-proclaimed LNR or DNR at the start of the ‘special operation’. The effect of these two factors is comparable to the ‘TV effect,’ that is a higher level of support for the ‘special operations’ is seen among people who continue to use television as their primary source of information. In this round of polling, living in a border region also appeared as a significant factor: support for the ‘special operation’ tended to be higher among people living in these regions.

In the eighth wave of polling, the share of respondents expressing approval of mobilisation fell significantly (from 54% to 48%), when compared to the previous data (collected September 29-30). But, when compared with the first express-interview (51%), the difference appears to be statistically insignificant. A similar trend was also witnessed, in that women, younger respondents, and people who had experienced hardships after the start of the ‘special operation’ were less supportive of mobilisation. Less affluent respondents were also observed to be less likely not to support mobilisation when compared with more affluent respondents (although there was no statistically significant effect in the case of the very poor).


The eighth wave of the Project Chronicles surveys was conducted by telephone interview from October 10th to 16th, 2022, using a random sample of mobile numbers from all Russia’s regions belonging to citizens over the age of18. A total of 1,685 respondents were interviewed. The final sample was weighted by gender, age, and type of settlement. A total of 687,676 phone numbers were called, of which 519,888 were pre-existing numbers. Out of the numbers dialled, the percentage of respondents who answered the call was 6.9%. The percentage of people telephoned, who explicitly refused to take part in the survey, was 5.9%, the percentage of completed questionnaires was 0.32%, while another 0.68% did not complete the survey for other reasons.

Perception of the ‘special operation’: terms, objectives, evaluations

People’s outlooks regarding the end of the ‘special operation’ have considerably worsened, when compared with data from July. Only 22% of respondents now believe that it will end within six months (in July 33% of respondents offered that response); 39% now think that it will last a year or more (in July, this figure was 35%), and 38% found it difficult to give any response at all (in July, this was 31%). This means that, in general, uncertainty regarding this matter has increased substantially in recent months.

44% of respondents believe that the ‘special operation’ is very/somewhat successful, and 23% believe that it is somewhat/extremely unsuccessful, while a third of respondents found its success difficult to assess the course of the war. The responses to this question naturally correlate with the responses provided to the question regarding support for the ‘special operation’. Nonetheless, even among its supporters, just 57% of respondents are confident of the current success of the ‘special operation’. An important caveat here, however, is the fact that young people (18-34 years old) were most commonly the respondents  to provide answers to the effect that they believed the ‘special operation’ to be successful. Religious respondents and those who receive information about the ‘special operation’ from TV also believe that it is being conducted successfully. Only 18% of respondents sampled believe that the goals of the ‘special operation’ have been achieved, and 45%  do not think that they have been. The latter opinion was more typical for respondents with a higher level of education, lower income, and those who get their information from the Internet. Once again, more than a third (37%) of respondents found it difficult to assess these questions.

At the same time, only 23% of respondents (approximately half of those who think the goals have not been achieved) were willing to justify their response. Approximately a third  noted a lack of determination and toughness in the conduct of the ‘special operation’ (‘we’re acting soft,’ ‘we dragged it out,’ ‘we pity them,’ ‘we should act more harshly’), and a similar proportion of respondents suggested ‘ineffective leadership of the army,’ ‘corruption’ or ‘lack of strength’ were the reasons that the goals had not been achieved. This first category of reasons was more commonly cited by supporters of the ‘special operation,’ while those of the second category were cited equally by both supporters and opponents.

Reasons why the goals of the ‘special operation’ have not been achieved

Amount of responses

% of total answers

We’re acting soft/dragging out/pity them/need to act harsher



Ineffective leadership/corruption/lack of strength



Aid to Ukraine



Unrealistic, meaningless war/ unattainable objectives



It all depends on the leadership/loyalty to the president



Resistance by Ukrainians



Can't agree/negotiations needed



Geopolitical situation/everyone against us








When answering the question, the respondent could choose more than one answer.

Information sources and who the ‘special operation’ is discussed with

In comparison with the July opinion poll, there had been little change in the proportion of respondents who mentioned TV as their primary source of information in October, although the percentage of those who made reference to other sources of information had increased (radio — by 5%, Telegram channels — by 6%, social networks and messengers — by 6%, relatives and colleagues — by 9%). This means that, compared to July, respondents are now experiencing a greater need for alternative informational sources to television. At the same time, the percentage of respondents affirming that they trust TV first and foremost did not change (37%).

Respondents who received their information about the ‘special operation’ from TV or Telegram channels were more inclined to support it (which suggests that Telegram channels have ceased to be a conduit for oppositional opinions), while YouTube users were more inclined to express a clear lack of support for the ‘special operation’. Respondents who said they were not following the course of the ‘special operation’ tended to either openly not support its conduct, or to avoid answering the questions. Notably, among those who had experienced personal problems after the start of the ‘special operation,’ consuming information from television did not correspond to an increase support for the ‘special operation.’ This means that the negative ‘empty fridge effect’ neutralises the effects of watching TV and its associated increase in support.

In previous rounds of polling, it appeared that opponents and supporters of the ‘special operations’ did not differ so much in their preferred information source type (TV, newspapers, radio vs. the Internet), but rather by whether they use a VPN (18% of respondents state that they do). Data from the latest wave confirms this observation. 

A quarter of respondents (26%) replied that they did not discuss news about the ‘special operation’ with anyone; of the rest, the majority discuss it with family members and relatives (56%), it was less common to talk about it with friends and good acquaintances (39%), and even more rare to discuss it with colleagues (22%). Discussion of these issues with neighbours and strangers is very rare. Those who responded that they discuss the news regarding the ‘special operation’ with their relatives, friends, neighbours, and colleagues are more likely to express open support for it. Those who do not discuss the ‘special operation’ with anyone often found it difficult to answer the question concerning their opinions, or refused to answer at all. The percentage of people who were ready to discuss the ‘special operation’ with strangers is fairly small, but this group were more likely to express a negative attitude towards its conduct.

Discussing news about the ‘special operation’: ‘Who do you discuss news about the “special operation” with? It doesn't matter whether in person, on the phone, in correspondence, or in some other way.’

Amount of responses

% of total answers

With family members, relatives



With friends and good acquaintances



With neighbours



With colleagues/classmates (if you study or work)



With strangers and unfamiliar people in public places (in transport / in queues / in stores, etc.)



With strangers and unfamiliar people on the Internet — in social networks, group chats, and comments



I don't discuss it with anyone.



I can't answer that.




2 704

When answering the question, the respondent could choose more than one answer.

Anxiety and emotional background

Since the beginning of March, an average of 36% of respondents have experienced anxiety or depression related to the current situation in the country. The peak of accumulated negative emotions was observed in late June — early July (43%). Almost 1 in 4 people (23%) has cut off communication with some friends and relatives.

Anxiety and depression among Russian residents, March-October 2022, % of the total number of respondents who felt anxious or depressed 

An important factor related to anxiety is a low assessment of one's own financial situation: respondents with low and below-average assessments of their own economic situations were more likely to experience anxiety and depression than respondents with above average assessments. This was also confirmed in the projections on to other indicators: those who had to save on food due to rising prices are more likely to say that they experience anxiety. A strong correlation has been identified between anxiety and those who had severed communication with family and friends — this correlation is stronger than the link between anxiety and job loss, lack of opportunity to travel abroad, and the disappearance of necessary medications. This means that anxiety and depression are most tied to financial issues and difficulties in maintaining relationships.

Another factor which contributes to increased anxiety is receiving information about current events from Telegram channels. In addition, by July, respondents who received news about the ‘special operation’ from social networks and messenger services claimed to be anxious more frequently, while by mid-October those who received their information from relatives and acquaintances or discussed it with family members claimed that they were anxious more often. Those who do not discuss the news regarding the ‘special operation’ with anyone are less likely to feel anxious or depressed.

In mid-October, respondents were asked how the newly announced mobilisation made them feel. Respondents who approved of the mobilisation had a prevailing feeling of duty and pride for Russia, but a quarter of them also experienced anxiety and fear. Among those who were disapproving of mobilisation, the majority experienced anger, indignation, anxiety, and fear. About one in five expressed feelings of shock and helplessness.

Respondents who found it difficult or refused to answer the questions regarding their attitude to mobilisation demonstrated similar sentiments: anxiety and fear predominate, feelings of duty and pride for Russia are strong (just as among those who approve of mobilisation), with feelings of shock and helplessness also present (as with those who disapprove of mobilisation).

The core of support for the ‘special operation’ and its consequences

In the middle of October the pool of questions was expanded to ask about changes to respondents' lives, which had occurred since the beginning of the ‘special operation’ and were related to the current situation in Russia. The most common negative changes were the need to save money on groceries due rising prices (52% of respondents) and falling family incomes (39%). 16% of respondents noted that medicines they needed had disappeared from shelves, 9% of respondents remarked that somebody in their family had been laid off or lost their business. Speaking about the future, only 11% of respondents believed that their financial standing would improve over the next six months. 42% believed it will remain the same, and 33% responded that it will deteriorate.

‘Which of the following has happened to you since the beginning of March 2022 due to the current situation in the country?’, % of respondents



Had to save money on groceries due to rising prices



Family income has decreased



Have experienced anxiety or depression



Stopped communicating with some close friends and relatives



Laid off at work or lost your business



At the time the survey was conducted (October 10-16, 2022), 12% of respondents had experienced a family member being drafted for military service, and 3% of respondents had a family member (or the respondent themself) leave home due to the ‘special operation’, for reasons other than military service. Projecting this outwards to the entire population, this would suggest figures of 15 million and 3.5 million people, respectively, have been affected in this way. In our opinion, the fact that such a significant number of people declared that ‘family members’ had been drafted is evidence of the high ‘sensitivity’ to the draft, and as a result, people appear to be inclined to interpret the term ‘family’ broadly, taking it to include distant relatives. 

Just as with the sixth wave of polling, the core of support for the ‘special operation’ was defined as the share of people who support it, are ready to participate in it, or are ready to donate personal funds to arm the army. During the most recent survey, this number stood at up to 42% of the total number of respondents. However, unlike the sixth wave, the most recent survey drew a distinction between readiness to participate in the ‘special operation’ between participating voluntarily or being ordered to take part (as part of mobilisation). The responses demonstrate that young and middle-aged respondents are much less willing to participate voluntarily compared to older respondents. But, at the same time, they are much more willing to participate if ordered. The experience of problems related to the ‘special operation’ decreased the willingness of respondents to participate if ordered, but did not decrease their willingness to participate voluntarily, if this already existed. Using television as a source of information increased respondents’ willingness to participate if ordered, but not voluntarily.

In any case, those who are willing to participate if ordered, but are not willing to take part voluntarily, can hardly be included in the core support group. If we exclude these people, the core ends up standing at around 32% of respondents. This estimate falls within the range of the support core that was obtained during the sixth wave of polling — between 30 to 38% — although it is closer to its lower boundary. In other words, among the 51-57% of respondents who stated their support for the ‘special operation’, only just over half of them belong to the core support group (these are its conscious supporters), while the rest (20-25% of all respondents) would rather just demonstrate their loyalty to the ‘special operation’ and its goals.

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