16:57 13.06.2024

Majority of Ukrainians think Russia's goal in war is extermination of Ukrainian nation – KIIS survey

6 min read
Majority of Ukrainians think Russia's goal in war is extermination of Ukrainian nation – KIIS survey

Almost two-thirds of Ukrainians (60%) believe that the goal of Russian aggression is the extermination of the Ukrainian people, according to the results of a survey conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS).

"The majority of Ukrainians – 60% – believe that Russia seeks to destroy the Ukrainian nation (34%) or even carry out physical genocide of the majority of the population (26%). Another 6% of Ukrainians believe that Russia wants to conquer all territories, although leaving them cultural autonomy as part of Russia," the KIIS said in a report on Thursday.

Another 12% of Ukrainians believe that Russia is seeking to change the government and create a puppet state that will be obeyed to Russia. Only 7% of Ukrainians believe that the aggressor seeks to retain the already occupied territories and does not really lay claim to all or most of the territories of Ukraine.

"In addition, one of the answer options was formulated in such a way as to be close to Russian propaganda, namely, denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine without encroaching on the independence of Ukraine. Only 5% of respondents chose this option," it said.

In all regions, more respondents (62% in the West and Center, 56% in the South, and 49% in the East) believe that Russia is seeking to exterminate the Ukrainian nation or even commit physical genocide. Moreover, a third of the population in all regions feels that Russia wants to physically destroy the majority of the population.

Answers from genocide to the creation of an obedient puppet state actually mean that, according to the respondents' sentiments, Russia has not achieved its goal, that is, it will continue its aggressive actions. Depending on the region, the share of respondents who think so ranges from 85% in the West to 61% in the East.

"That is, the majority of the population in all regions understands that Russia does not seek to stop in its actions," the report says.

At the same time, from West to East, the share of those who believe that Russia no longer lays claim to the majority of Ukrainian territories and only seeks to retain the already occupied territories grows from 3% to 13%.

It is also noted that in the East there are relatively more of those who believe that Russia wants to "denazify" and demilitarize Ukraine without encroaching on independence – 11% versus 3-6% in other regions. At the same time, in the South and East, respectively, 16% and 15% of respondents found it difficult to answer the question and, perhaps, some of them deliberately avoided answering so as not to express their pro-Russian position.

"However, even if a certain part really takes a pro-Russian position, this still means that such residents constitute an absolute minority in the region. That is, in any case, the majority of residents of the South and East have completely pro-Ukrainian views," the KIIS said.

Although Russian-speaking Ukrainians spoke somewhat less frequently about Russia's intentions to destroy the Ukrainian nation, even among them 62% believe that Russia has unrealized hostile intentions that will continue. In particular, 37% believe that Russia is seeking to destroy the Ukrainian nation or kill the majority of Ukrainians.

In addition, only 7% of Russian-speaking Ukrainians share the Russian narrative that Russia simply wants to "denazify" and demilitarize Ukraine without encroaching on its independence.

Executive Director of KIIS Anton Hrushetsky noted that in all regions of the country, residents understand the existential nature of Russia's war against Ukraine.

"In May 2023, 78% of Ukrainians had loved ones or acquaintances killed or injured as a result of the invasion. Most of them have someone currently serving in the defense forces. Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to leave Ukraine and millions have become internally displaced within Ukraine. Pain and tears are the daily realities of Ukrainians in all regions. Ukrainians' awareness of the destructive and murderous aspirations of Russia and Russians is a powerful factor that maintains the stability of the understanding that the fight must be continued. One can have different strategic and tactical views on the conduct of the fight (for example, whether it is worth entering negotiations, what compromises are more or less acceptable, etc.), however, Ukrainians remain united on the issue that we must continue to repel the cruel enemy," he said.

In addition, the results of the survey should provide another unambiguous explanation to Western partners why Ukrainians do not want "any kind of" peace with Russia.

"Ukrainians do not need 'any kind of' peace – Ukrainians just want to survive. Therefore, we need a peace that would guarantee that the war will not be repeated over and over again with the seizure of more and more new territories, until there is nothing left of Ukraine," Hrushetsky said.

The survey was conducted from May 16 to May 22, 2024 using the interview method (computer-assisted telephone interviews, CATI) based on a random sample of mobile telephone numbers (with random generation of telephone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting). A total of 1,067 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (territory controlled by the government of Ukraine) were interviewed. The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 years and older) citizens of Ukraine who, at the time of the survey, were living in the territory of Ukraine controlled by the Ukrainian government. The sample did not include residents of territories that are temporarily not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities and the survey was not conducted with citizens who traveled abroad after February 24, 2022.

Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 3.4% for indicators close to 50%, 3.0% for indicators close to 25%, 2.1% – for indicators close to 10%, 1.5% – for indicators close to 5%.

In war conditions, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. In general, the results obtained still remain highly representative and allow a fairly reliable analysis of the public mood of the population.

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