#7. Mirror of the “military operation”

Post-release #7, May 12, 2022

 

Elena Koneva,

Alexander Chilingaryan

This post-release is an unusual one. It is based on the Chronicle project in Russia and research by the Ukrainian company Info Sapiens.

Sociologists from the two countries at war continue to do their work despite the censorship in Russia and the horrors of war in Ukraine.

Facts

Ukraine: Refugees, economic and humanitarian consequences

As of April 21, 2022, 7.7 million residents of Ukraine have been displaced within Ukraine, and 5.3 million have left the country.

There are an estimated 12 million more Ukrainians who are ready to move within the country and abroad, but do not yet have the opportunity.

Table 1. According to the BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60555472)
Table 1. According to the BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60555472)

The UN, as well as reputable foreign media such as The Guardian, BBC, and The Washington Post, are conducting their own independent investigations into population displacement, including the practice of forcible deportation of Ukrainians to Russia.

Under conditions of dire need for information, sociological research becomes not only a tool for studying opinions, but also the statistics of humanitarian processes per se.

Info Sapiens has conducted 15,000 telephone and online interviews over the course of the military operation.

The surveys are based on monitoring questions that allow us to assess the dynamics of development of the humanitarian, economic and psychological status of the Ukrainian population.

What are important and, to a large extent, unique indicators are the measurable effects of the military operation in Ukraine.

We provide a comparative analysis of the data for Russia and for Ukraine. For the Ukrainian data, we also give figures for percent estimates in absolute values.

Table 2. Economic and psychological consequences according to the Chronicle surveys, Wave 4 in Russia, and the Info Sapiens surveys in Ukraine
Table 2. Economic and psychological consequences according to the Chronicle surveys, Wave 4 in Russia, and the Info Sapiens surveys in Ukraine

One should be aware of these figures, the consequences of Russia's military operation, in which the official target is military facilities, places of deployment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

A million people starving, 2.5 million without medical care, 3.6 million who lost their homes and possessions, 8 million separated from their families, over 2 million Ukrainians whose loved ones were killed or suffered health damage

Within the month all of these numbers have already become outdated, and today they can only be greater.

Table 3. Humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine according to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 3. Humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine according to the Info Sapiens survey

The value of Info Sapiens surveys also lies in the fact that they reflect the dynamics of important processes and are comparable with available official statistics.

They can serve as a point of reference for questions that do not yet have other sources.

According to a survey by Info Sapiens, 18% of Ukrainians have left their home as of mid-April. Projected onto the population (36,367,000 people including the 4.8 million refugees who had left Ukraine as of April 1) this amounts to 6,546,060 people. This estimate corresponds to the official figures.
Since the beginning of March, more than 4.7 million refugees have left Ukraine (as of April 15, 2022), and approximately 7 million people have been internally displaced (as of April 1, 2022), according to the UN.
Table 4. Based on the Info Sapiens survey
Table 4. Based on the Info Sapiens survey

According to data from Info Sapiens, about 400,000 Ukrainians have been forcibly removed to Russia. Orphans who were also deported to Russia are not counted here, so this estimate is lower than the actual number.

Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmila Denisova gives an estimation of at least 400,000 Ukrainian citizens displaced to Russia (EuroNews 30.03.2022).

At the end of April, according to her estimates, the figure was 900,000.

13% of respondents in Russia have encountered refugees from the LPRR. 9% have encountered refugees from Ukraine. These are, of course, overlapping groups.

Overall, 16% of respondents have encountered one or another type of refugee, which amounts to one and a half million witnesses, quite consistent with an assessment of the number of refugees and the territorial distribution of refugees as significant.

Table 5. Refugees in Russian regions according to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project
Table 5. Refugees in Russian regions according to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project
Table 5. Refugees in Russian regions according to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project

According to UNICEF, as of March 31, 2 million children have left Ukraine and an additional 2.5 million children have been internally displaced. This brings the proportion of children forced from their homes due to the ongoing attacks on urban areas to more than 60 percent. A huge proportion of those who have left Ukraine (according to Info Sapiens - 88 percent of refugees) maintain their desire and intention to return home. The UN estimates that up to 30,000 refugees return each day, so there is an estimate that more than one million have already returned. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1116212

Russia: Emigrants of the war wave

In the first two months of the war many citizens left Russia.

There are very different estimates of the number of people in the "war wave" of emigration.

Expert demographers speak of several hundred thousand. The latest figures, the source of which is attributed to the FSB, say that 3.8 million people have left in the first quarter of 2022.

Data on arrivals to other countries have not yet been accumulated. The exact data will probably not be known soon, too many parties having an interest in manipulation.

According to the Chronicle Project, 7% of respondents said that someone close to them had left Russia. That gives a figure twice as high, about 8 million, but it's likely that we have sampled a longer period. Since 2000, the exodus rate from Russia has been 5 million. The overall scale seems to be just that.

Ukraine: The consequences of the war, regional and linguistic viewpoints

First and foremost, it is clear that the East of Ukraine, which includes the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv regions, suffered the most. By all accounts, the proportion of those affected is greater: 31% lost their jobs compared to 8% in the western region. Four times as many families were separated.

Torture, abuse, and unlawful mobilization are four times higher than the Ukrainian average. Accordingly, the share of residents of the East not affected by the above-mentioned consequences of military actions of the Russian army is only 9%, while in Ukraine as a whole it is 27%.

Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel, Borodianka - these and other heavily affected settlements in the Kiev region are part of the North region. This region has the highest rates of failure to provide medical care and loss of life and health.

The survey took place immediately after the well-known events in the settlements of this region.

Table 6. Humanitarian consequences of war by region. According to the survey by Info Sapiens
Table 6. Humanitarian consequences of war by region. According to the survey by Info Sapiens
Table 6. Humanitarian consequences of war by region. According to the survey by Info Sapiens
Table 7. The use of Ukrainian and Russian languages by regions of Ukraine according to the survey by Info Sapiens
Table 7. The use of Ukrainian and Russian languages by regions of Ukraine according to the survey by Info Sapiens
Table 7. The use of Ukrainian and Russian languages by regions of Ukraine according to the survey by Info Sapiens

In this table we have accumulated the economic consequences of the military operation in terms of the main language used and the regions with predominant use of the Ukrainian and Russian languages.

The picture is so vivid that it requires no detailed commentary. The main thing is obvious: on all counts, economic and humanitarian, the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine suffered the most: destruction of cities, loss of life and health, loss of jobs and income, forced deportation to Russia, unlawful mobilization, and even torture

32% of respondents immediately after the start of the operation thought that its main goal was the protection of Russian-speaking citizens of Donbass (according to Project Athena 28.02 - 01.03.2022). The next position, the security of Russia, scored twice as little at that time.

Can any rational explanation be given as to how these results of the two months of the military operation fit in with the goals of protecting the interests and lives of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine as declared by the authorities and accepted by the population?

Thoughts and feelings

We asked Ukrainian and Russian respondents several similar questions.

One of them was about people's confidence in their influence on their own lives in the context of current events.

Personal influence on one's life in the context of events in Ukraine and Russia.  According to Info Sapiens and ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project
Personal influence on one's life in the context of events in Ukraine and Russia. According to Info Sapiens and ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project

A significant difference was found between Ukrainians and Russians. Russians perceived themselves as "victims" to a greater extent, despite the circumstances. This indicates deeper roots of the external locus of control, i.e. the national delegation of responsibility to the outside. 78% of those who support the military operation feel trust (in the actions of the authorities), and this is an important basis for support.

The lack of agency among Russians is clearly manifested in the answers to the questions "Should Russia terminate the military operation as soon as possible?" and "If further development of the military operation depended on you personally, would you terminate the operation right now?": 30% answered the first question in the affirmative, while the second question was answered in the affirmative only by 19%.
In other words, a third of Russians who believe that the war should be stopped would not be willing to stop it themselves, because they are afraid of personal responsibility - what if "not everything is so unambiguous". - From an Info Sapiens press release

This is the main difference between the two peoples: the Russians are attuned to subordination, paternalism removes responsibility for decision-making, makes the perception of even the current historical situation expectant and relaxed.

The Ukrainians' anarchism leads to a critical perception of the authorities' actions, the citizens' unpredictability, and at the same time to an incredible cohesion in moments of joint trials and to a wholehearted spontaneous consolidation "'round the flag". According to Info Sapiens, the presidential rating of V. Zelensky has grown from 26% among those who made up their minds in February before the war to 82% in the wartime April of 2022.

Russians' sympathy for Russians and Ukrainians

We asked Russian respondents about their sympathy for both peoples: "ordinary Russians" and "ordinary Ukrainians". The numbers of sympathy/non-sympathy for the two warring peoples were surprisingly similar.

But if one looks at the overlaps between these groups, one can see a more revealing combinatoric pattern.

Table 9. Combinatorial patterns of sympathy according to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project
Table 9. Combinatoric patterns of sympathy according to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project

The remaining 34% are people who found it difficult to answer both or one of the two questions.

It would seem that at least half of the respondents appear to have sympathy for both sides. A sufficient basis for a truce? However, a deeper look reveals the ambivalent nature of this compassion.

There are few demographic features, but they are there. Men, young people, people with high income are less empathic. Women, older people, low-income people are more so.

Table 10. Sympathy for Ukrainians and Russians. According to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project
Table 10. Sympathy for Ukrainians and Russians. According to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project
Table 10. Sympathy for Ukrainians and Russians. According to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project

Half of the respondents sympathetic to both peoples and feeling personally responsible for the military operation support it and would not stop it even if they had that authority.

However paradoxically, there are 4.5 times as many of those who do not support the military operation among those who do not sympathize with anyone than among the supporters. There are also more "unsympathetic" people among those who would stop the military operation.

Table 11. Impact of moral responsibility on sympathy for ordinary Russians and ordinary Ukrainians. According to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project
Table 11. Impact of moral responsibility on sympathy for ordinary Russians and ordinary Ukrainians. According to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project
Table 11. Impact of moral responsibility on sympathy for ordinary Russians and ordinary Ukrainians. According to ExtremeScan, the Chronicles project

Sympathy, of course, correlates with an elevated willingness to accept refugees.

It is interesting that those who sympathize with Russians and do not sympathize with Ukrainians show a clear difference in willingness to accept refugees from the Donbass and Ukrainians: 27% vs. 15%.

In the end of the interview we asked our respondents

If you have the possibility to send a short message (telegram) to ordinary people (not to the military or authorities) in Ukraine (or Russia correspondingly), what would you say?

The nature of sympathy can be seen projectively in Russian telegrams. Sympathy and support were expressed more articulately by respondents sympathizing with Ukrainians.

They also wrote messages of support: "not everyone supports the war", "I'm sorry", calls to fight.

But it must be said that such telegrams were given by a small group of respondents - only 3%. At the same time, 13% of the pro-Russian respondents called on Ukrainians to surrender, capitulate, and lay down their arms, and promised that Russia meant well and would free Ukraine from the Nazis.

So this kind of sympathy, as well as the 30% who claim that Ukrainians greet Russian troops in a friendly manner, is a reflection of Russians' inadequate perception of the actions in Ukraine and of the status of the operation.

A detailed description and analysis of the telegrams, as well as all the information on this joint experience can be read in the partners' reports, links can be found at the end of this release.

Table 12. Telegrams to Ukrainians. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey
Table 12. Telegrams to Ukrainians. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey
Table 12. Telegrams to Ukrainians. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey

Happiness

While hostilities are taking place on the territory of only one of the warring sides, and the consequences of isolation and sanctions have not made themselves fully known, we are witnessing a situation best described by a Russian proverb "Some people have no meat in their soup while some people have fine pearls".

On the chart we see three dips in the Ukrainian citizens' feeling of happiness: in April 2021, in January 2022 and the latest 2.5 months of 2022. All of them are related to the actions of Russia. In April, the conflict in Donbass escalated, Ukrainian military personnel were killed, and Russia built up a large military presence on the border with Ukraine. It looked like preparations for war and therefore the level of anxiety increased.

By early 2022 there was another build-up of troops, with U.S. intelligence reporting that an invasion was imminent. The population of Ukraine felt threatened again.

Figure 13. Dynamics of the feeling of happiness in Ukraine and Russia. According to the Info Sapiens and Extreme Scan surveys
Figure 13. Dynamics of the feeling of happiness in Ukraine and Russia. According to the Info Sapiens and Extreme Scan surveys

Russians: Dependence of happiness on attitude towards the military operation

Today Russia declares the happiness level as in pre-war Ukraine.

There is an impression that only a small percentage of Russians, about 15-20%, experience anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, at the end of March, when we measured this parameter, the main reason for such sentiments was local effects affecting respondents personally or their families: loss of jobs and income.

Yet there were few for whom deaths and suffering of people, possible conscription of their kinsmen, and relatives in the army were a source of depression or anxiety.

Table 14. Differentiation of happy and unhappy people in Russia.  According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project
Table 14. Differentiation of happy and unhappy people in Russia.  According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project
Table 14. Differentiation of happy and unhappy people in Russia. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project

It is clear that by asking about happiness, we partly capture the generally accepted answer to this question, but it reflects the emotional state of society. To understand how reliable this measurement is, let us look at what this national happiness correlates with.

Not to say that this is unexpected, but Russians' state of happiness is dependent on the level of support for the military operation, as well as of a lesser sense of responsibility for the military action in Ukraine, on the part of all ordinary Russian citizens as well as one's own.

Opponents of the operation, for the most part, feel unhappy: in the current situation, it is difficult to feel happiness if you do not believe in the justice and justifiability of the military operation conducted by your country. These people experience bouts of depression and quarrel with their loved ones. They are more concerned about the events in Ukraine and bear personal responsibility for them.

Among them there are twice as many who feel helpless in this situation.

Everything related to the sphere of the economy, finance, the prospects of material well-being and social tensions affects the assessment of one's happiness.

Ukrainians: Factors influencing the happiness level

Where is the line between Ukrainian happiness and unhappiness?

The red line is loss: of income, work, home, places of origin, family, lives of loved ones, and health.

Table 15. The consequences of the war in Ukraine and their impact on feelings of happiness.  According to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 15. The consequences of the war in Ukraine and their impact on feelings of happiness.  According to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 15. The consequences of the war in Ukraine and their impact on feelings of happiness. According to the Info Sapiens survey

It is appropriate to quote from another Info Sapiens research report commissioned by the Norwegian Peace Research Institute Oslo.

“In Ukraine, stories of sexual violence have been documented by human rights organizations and mentioned in the media. Although sexual violence can affect men, women, and children, news reports from Ukraine have so far highlighted that women are primarily targeted.

Survey evidence indicates that the vast majority of Ukrainians, about 93%, have heard of rape or sexual assault by the Russian or pro-Russian forces. The awareness of such cases seems to be about equal among women and men.

Moreover, 20% say that they personally know someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted by the Russian or pro-Russian troops since the invasion started on 24 February 2022.

Given that scholars of wartime sexual violence warn that the taboos and shame surrounding sexual violence often give strong concerns about underreporting, these figures are astonishingly high.” https://sapiens.com.ua/en/publication-single-page?id=225

The army of mindsets: An analysis of two opposing groups

Before concluding, we would like to share the images of certain groups of people that have emerged in the process of examining the data from this mirror study.

A segment of Russians: War advocates

We selected for analysis the respondents who answered two following questions in the following ways:

"We are experiencing events of historical significance in the life of our country that affect every citizen. Under these circumstances, to what extent can you personally influence your life?" - I certainly can.

"If further development of the military operation depended on you personally, would you or would you not terminate the operation right now?" - I would not.

We have a group with a somewhat higher male population, with a core of 35-54 year olds, more educated than the general population. Among them there are significantly more people with high incomes.

By all accounts, they were less affected by the effects of the military operation. Their perception of the Russian people improved more than that of others during the military operation.

But the main feature in this segmentation was their proactive and positive attitude. They are less prone to episodes of anxiety or depression, and their level of happiness is higher even than the level VTsIOM gives for the overall population - 92%.

Table 16. Socio-demographic characteristics of "war advocates" in Russia. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey
Table 16. Socio-demographic characteristics of "war advocates" in Russia. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey
Table 16. Socio-demographic characteristics of "war advocates" in Russia. According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey

We have called these people "war advocates". It should be noted that it is very difficult to come up with names for segments. In past studies, we modeled the "militarists". The militarists seem to be, for the most part, among the "advocates", they are less affected by sanctions as well, they are less depressed, they are slightly less wealthy than the war advocates.

Perhaps the militarists are not so positive. Perhaps they support the invasion "no matter what".

But the "war advocates" seem to like the military operation. They support it whatever the wording of the question is. They are not afraid of sanctions: almost 60% believe that sanctions cannot affect anything. All of the positive feelings about this event: pride, enthusiasm, and a sense of justice are expressed by them to a significantly greater extent.

There are 27% of such people. And now this is a more substantive figure than the 60-80% of direct support for the military operation shown by the pollsters.

These self-confident people do not simply share the decision to invade, but accept it as their own. Perhaps these people are aware that they have to experience these events in Russia and in order to do so they must adopt the official position, otherwise they must abandon their usual, pre-war self-confidence and recognize themselves as victims. Thus, agency, which is already less present in society in general than in Ukraine, translates into support for military action.

Table 17. Feelings of Russian "war advocates". According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey
Table 17. Feelings of Russian "war advocates". According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey
Table 17. Feelings of Russian "war advocates". According to the ExtremeScan Chronicles project survey

A segment of Ukrainians: Defenders

The group is built on the overlap of two questions and the answers to them as follows:

"We are experiencing events of historical significance in the life of our country that affect every citizen. Under these circumstances, to what extent can you personally influence your life?" - I certainly can.

"Do you believe that things in Ukraine today are generally going in the right direction, or do you think that the country is moving in the wrong direction?" - In the right direction.

In this case, approval of the way things go means not only support for resisting the invasion of Russian troops, but also the belief in victory and in the country changing for the better after the victory.

Combined with high personal activity/agency, there are 45% of such people.

We have called them "defenders". As well as the "war advocates", they are wealthier, and there are more men among them than in the population. But they are much younger than the Russian group. The majority are in their 20s to 40s. It is worth noting that the generational difference between Ukraine and Russia is noticeable on many levels of society. The average age of members of the Russian government is 55 years old, while that of the Ukrainian government is 39 years old.

The "defenders" are more "Ukrainian" in their main language. The western regions of Ukraine are essentially more passionate. In the West, 59% of Ukrainians believe they can influence their own lives. In the Russian-speaking East there are only 41% of such people.

Table 18. Demographic characteristics of the "defenders". According to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 18. Demographic characteristics of the "defenders". According to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 18. Demographic characteristics of the "defenders". According to the Info Sapiens survey

They are also more "happy" than Ukrainians in general.

They trust Zelensky more, and the presidential rating reaches 82%. It is worth noting the difference in causality: Russians have supported the military operation because it is Putin's decision. The "defenders" support Zelensky for standing up for Ukraine, but they criticize him even today when they see his mistakes.

During the war they have become even more loyal to Ukrainians than others.

They have been slightly less affected by the consequences of the war, they are less afraid of losing their homes or property. There are fewer of them in occupied territory, partly because men of conscription age are especially dangerous to be there and they fear forcible deportation to Russia more than others.

The "defenders" appear to be the core of the resistance, their psychological status creating the foundation of the nation's resilience. They take responsibility for themselves and are in fact the backbone of the nation.

Table 19. Feelings of the "defenders" of Ukraine. According to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 19. Feelings of the "defenders" of Ukraine. According to the Info Sapiens survey
Table 19. Feelings of the "defenders" of Ukraine. According to the Info Sapiens survey

In both countries, we asked about the main traits inherent in their people.

For the Russian "war advocates" such traits turned out to be "fair", "united", and "patriotic".

Ukrainian "defenders", more than others, named "strength of spirit", "loyalty", "indestructibility", also patriotism, and, characteristically, belligerence.

Since projecting one's own values plays a major role in determining the characteristics of one's ethnicity, we can assume that military personnel, members of the Territorial Defense Forces and volunteers, as well as their entourage, constitute a significant part of the Ukrainian group.

Telegrams from Russians to Ukrainians and vice versa: wishes to each other

In their telegrams, the "advocates" wrote:

Hang on there!

Russia has come to liberate you, to help you!

Don't be Nazis.

Fight against your authorities.

Come over to the Russian side, help the Russian military.

Don't watch TV, don't trust your authorities.

We are one nation, it is better for you to be with us.

Open your eyes. Start thinking.

The voice of the "defenders":

Open your eyes, start thinking.

Fight against your authorities

Take away your children and men, don't let them go to war

Don't watch TV, don't trust the authorities.

Stop the war, fight against war.

You are bad people, morons, assholes, etc.

Follow the Russian warship / go **** yourselves

Wishing death

Don't come to our land, get out of Ukraine

Look at what's really going on in Ukrainian cities

Leave us alone

Ukraine will overcome

Feel what the Ukrainians have been through

We will not forgive you, you have become enemies.

Be concerned with your own country.

Open your eyes. Start thinking.

This is probably the most numerous mutual wish expressed by Ukrainian and Russian respondents.

We hope that our release has not only shown fractions and percentages of various parameters of public consciousness, but has allowed at least a little understanding of the scale of the consequences of the invasion. We hope that it has allowed a glimpse into the minds and souls of the people on the warring sides.

With this release we wanted to show that public opinion research sometimes turns into an investigation of the causes of the disaster we are witnessing and participating in. There is a great deal of analytical work to be done. By conducting surveys today, we are accumulating valuable material.

Survey methodology

Survey methodology on which this release is based (unless otherwise noted)

  • The survey in Russia was conducted from April 13 to 18, 2022 (from the 49th to 54th day since the beginning of the "military operation"). The survey in Ukraine was conducted on April 10-14.

  • The survey method is telephone interview on a random sample of mobile numbers.

  • Geography of the survey - all regions of Russia and Ukraine (in Ukraine - except for the territories occupied before February 24).

  • We interviewed citizens of Russia and Ukraine aged 18 years and older.

  • A total of 1,613 respondents in Russia and 1,000 respondents in Ukraine were interviewed.

  • The 95% confidence interval for the estimates for the total sample including the weighting does not exceed +/- 2.6 percentage points.

  • The final sample is weighted by gender, age, region, and type of locality.

Materials

The main materials of the projects are presented in a release by our Ukrainian colleague Inna Volosevich and in a detailed report by the sociologists of the Chronicle project. The links are provided below.