24.01.23 Review

The Allies vs Everyone Else: although the world may condemns the Russian invasion, only certain countries are willing to fund Ukraine’s resistance

According to a survey conducted in 28 countries across the globe, the war in Ukraine remains at the centre of public attention. Half of the countries polled are part of the international alliance that has imposed sanctions on Russia, and the majority of citizens in these countries condemn the Russian invasion. At the same time, countries which have not participated in sanctions may symbolically condemn the invasion (by supporting Russia’s exclusion from international sporting competitions, for example), but are not willing to bear the economic burden of stopping Russian aggression. This stands in contrast to members of the alliance, who are willing to face the financial consequences of supporting Ukraine. However, two countries within the alliance stand out — Hungary and South Korea. Respondents in these countries tend to hold similar positions as those not in the alliance. Likewise, respondents from India and Brazil, despite not having joined the sanctions against Russia, are much more aligned with those within the pro-Ukraine alliance than they may initially appear.

The war in Ukraine remains at the centre of the global attention (it was identified as a key issue by 64% of respondents), but is not deemed to be as important as issues such as ‘rising prices’ (80%) and ‘climate change and severe weather’ (74%). The level of attention that respondents paid to the conflict had fallen slightly when compared to figures from March (69% identified the war as a key issue in March). These figures were extracted from a repeat survey conducted by the research marketing company IPSOS in 28 countries, of which half are active members of the Western alliance that has imposed sanctions on Russia.

Residents of India, Sweden, and the Netherlands continued to pay the most attention toward the development of the conflict in Ukraine (76–80%), while the lowest level of interest was observed in Latin America, Thailand and Malaysia (40–53%). Among European countries, Belgium paid the lowest level of attention (53%); while the US can be found in the bottom third of the rankings, with only 60% of American respondents continuing to follow the conflict (a 5% drop compared to spring). Levels of sympathy for Ukraine positively correlate with the belief that it should be provided with aid to repel Russia’s attack. 

Overall, 70% of respondents were of the opinion that support should be given to sovereign countries that have been attacked by an external aggressor. 57% of respondents from Europe and the United States believe that it is important to continue support for Ukraine until Russian troops withdraw from all of its territory. Residents of Great Britain and Sweden were firmer in their belief of this than others (68-69%) , but there are also certain countries where support for Ukraine has backslid, namely Hungary (37%) and Italy (42%).

Global support for Ukraine, December 2022, % of respondents

There continues to be an almost universal agreement that sending troops to Ukraine would be an inappropriate measure, with only 22% of respondents responding positively to this idea (+4% compared to March–April). Delivering weapons to Ukraine is also a controversial topic; 37% approve of supplying military aid, while 35% are against. Generally speaking, the countries that do not support weapon deliveries to Ukraine are concentrated in Asia and South America (coincidently the same regions where the public tend to express more neutral opinions towards the conflict). Residents of countries which are part of the sanctions alliance, such as those residing in the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Canada (59-63%), tend to support the supply of weapons to Ukraine. Just over half (48-54%) of respondents from France, Germany, Spain and the USA also support delivering weapons.  Unexpectedly high rates of support can be observed in India (47%, which is on par with public opinion in Germany), despite the fact that India was and is a major importer of Russian weapons, and has now also become a hub for the resale of Russian oil — not to mention the fact that it has been labelled as a ‘friendly’ country by the Kremlin.

In several countries where respondents were initially hesitant to send weapons to Ukraine, the number of those now respondering favourbly to this question has risen (+16% in Turkey, +9% in Peru), while the opposite trend has been observed in some of Ukraine’s allies. For example, when compared to figures from the spring, there has been a slight decrease in the number of those supporting weapon deliveries in Germany (-7%), the Netherlands (-6%) and the USA (-4%). This data is most likely a reflection of Russia’s nuclear sabre rattling.

64% of all respondents agree with the statement: ‘Given the current economic crisis, [my country] cannot afford to provide financial support to Ukraine.’ Among those countries which are members of the sanctions alliance, the median value of those in agreement with this statement is 56%, while among the countries outside the alliance this figure stands at 73%. At the same time, in many countries within the alliance, the share of positive responses has noticeably grown over the course of the winter (+8% in France, +9% in Germany, +11% in Sweden, +11% in Japan). When answering the question: ‘Do you agree with the statement that Ukraine’s problems are none of our business and we should not interfere?’ the median value for positive responses from respondents based in the alliance countries was 33%, and for non-alliance countries this stood at 55%. Finally, in general, 45% of respondents were in favour of applying the most severe economic sanctions against Russia, while just 25% were against. At the same time, among members of the alliance, the median of those who continued to express support for sanctions stood at 58%, while among residents of the non-alliance countries that number was 33%.

As a result, countries can be roughly divided into two groups on most issues. Re:Russia has previously covered this discrepancy, which was identified in a number of global surveys in the spring of 2022. At the same time, it should not be assumed that citizens of countries outside the alliance sympathise with Russia; on the contrary, they most definitely condemn its aggression against Ukraine. In response to the question: ‘Should Russian athletes continue to be excluded from international competitions?’ the median value of those who agree with this statement in Asian and Latin American countries (that are not members of the alliance) is 57%. Yet citizens of these countries are not ready to ‘pay’ for their symbolic condemnation of Russia. It should be noted that among the alliance, two countries particularly stand out: Hungary and South Korea, where respondents provide very similar responses as those given by residents in Asian/Latin countries. Likewise, in the non-alliance group, India and Brazil noticeably diverge from the rest of the group in their opinions, and seem closer in their positions to the alliance. This may be because citizens of these countries feel more involved in global issues.

The survey of 19,000 adult respondents from 28 countries was conducted on the Ipsos Global Advisor platform in late November—early December 2022, following a similar survey conducted in March—April 2022.