Most Ukrainians want to keep fighting until Russia is driven out, poll finds
The Washington Post October 18, 2022
Seventy percent of Ukrainians are determined to keep fighting until their country wins the war against Russia, according to a Gallup poll conducted in early September, amid counteroffensives that retook swaths of land in the country's south and east.
Nearly all who supported continuing the fight defined victory as retaking all territories seized by Russia since 2014, including Crimea, Gallup said.
The survey, published Tuesday, was conducted by telephone last month and precedes last week's barrages against Kyiv and energy facilities across Ukraine, as well as deadly drone strikes this week in the capital.
Ukrainian officials are greeting the news as a sign that the country has the appetite — and stamina — to continue the fight into the colder winter months.
"It's a choice between either a fight or a genocide," Ukrainian lawmaker Maryan Zablotskyy, a member of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's party, told The Washington Post.
Support for the war effort is so high, he argues, because Ukrainians know what the alternative is — the horrors inflicted by Russian troops in the cities they have captured.
"We have seen what Russia does in places where there is no fighting. Any sort of resistance is better than the fate of the people who have been conquered by Russia," he said in a telephone interview. "This is existential."
Overall support for Ukraine's military registered at near universally high levels, with 94% reporting they had confidence in their armed forces. Despite fears of worsening economic conditions and the degrading quality of wartime living, Gallup's poll showed public confidence in the national government, led by Zelenskyy, to be at the highest level recorded in 17 years of Gallup polls.
Rather than exacerbating the divisions that for years have conflicted Ukrainians over the country's position between Russia and the West, the poll's findings highlight the unintended consequences of President Vladimir Putin's attempt at a full-scale land invasion: uniting the country around a common sense of purpose perhaps never before enjoyed in its history and boosting hopes of closer ties with Western allies in the future.
A majority of Ukrainians think that within 10 years their country will be a member of the European Union (73%) and NATO (64%), according to Gallup, reflective of a broader optimism growing among the country's population for Ukraine's future.
Even so, the study reveals potential cracks in the high levels of popular support for Ukraine's fight to victory. One of the biggest divisions ran along gender lines, with 76% of Ukrainian men in favor of continuing the war effort compared with 64% of women saying the same.
The most pronounced differences were regional — with support for fighting until victory strongest in the capital, Kyiv (83%) and western Ukraine (82%) and significantly lower in the east (56%) and in the south (58%), closer to the grinding ground battle taking place along the front lines.
Zablotskyy acknowledged that support for the war may differ between the regions but also highlighted the higher proportion of Russians living in these parts of the country. "Nineteen percent of Ukrainian citizens consider themselves Russian," he said, referring to recent demographic polling, and they primarily reside closer to the border in the country's east, he said, and suggested they may be more susceptible to pro-Russian messaging.
Across the country as a whole, 26% of Ukrainians say the government should negotiate an end to fighting as quickly as possible.
It is difficult to compare popular support for the war effort with equivalent levels in Russia, where freedom of speech is heavily restricted and reliable surveying is difficult, but some polling appears to show Russians are less likely to support fighting to victory.