How do Ukrainians see the war playing out?

by | Jun 2, 2022



With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now in its fourth month, Premise sought to measure how Ukrainians see the war developing. We had 941 Ukrainian adults share their views with us: while many reported facing immense hardship personally and economically, over 80% believe the war will end in victory for Ukraine. Perhaps reflecting this optimism, most respondents currently oppose making any concessions to Russia in order to end the war, with opposition to territorial concessions being particularly intense. 

Ukrainians are optimistic about the military outcome

A combined 80% of respondents believe Ukraine will either recapture all the territory it held before the war, or make gains in Crimea and/or Donbas. Contrasted with initial Western predictions that Russia would seize Kyiv within 72 hours, this reflects a high degree of optimism.

Still, Ukrainians expect a difficult road ahead. A bare majority (53%) believe Ukraine is currently winning the war, while 41% believe neither side is winning. This sentiment differs along regional lines: Central and Western regions are more likely to see Ukraine as currently winning (56% and 67%) while Southern and Eastern regions, the current frontline, see a more mixed picture (41% and 45%). In addition, most respondents (52%) see the war stretching on at least another half year.

Ukrainians oppose concessions, especially territorial ones 

A majority of Ukrainians (53%), including pluralities in every geographic region of the country, oppose negotiating with Russia in order to end the war. The Central region stands out from the pack, where 61% oppose concessions, versus 44-49% elsewhere. This deviation may stem from either confidence or anger: Central Ukraine saw Russia’s initial advance fail, with atrocities uncovered soon after.

Among those who are open to concessions to end the war, the strongest support is for non-territorial concessions such as disavowing NATO accession and agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons. By contrast, territorial concessions are a non-starter: only 4% (roughly 2% of all respondents) support recognizing the independence (or annexation) of territory held by Ukraine when the war started.

Respondents’ views of what constitutes victory paint a similar picture, with 43% indicating they would consider a return to the pre-war territorial situation and non-territorial concessions a victory.

Our results suggest that President Zelenskyy’s public opposition to any Western pressure for territorial concessions has strong political backing at home.  Conversely, he may face repercussions should Ukraine’s military fail to deliver on the public’s expectations for a military outcome. We will continue to measure sentiment relating to this topic as fighting continues.

Ukrainians who have suffered most are not more conciliatory

As part of our survey, respondents were asked how the war has affected their lives. They shared poignant, detailed stories: some reported having lost two houses since 2014, others described the loss of friends and family, and many were worried about their finances as a result of economic disruption.

We were curious about the impact of these hardships on Ukrainians’ expectations and attitudes about the war. To investigate this, we selected text responses featuring Ukrainian and Russian-language words relating to destruction, difficulty, finances, and other negative sentiment. Notably, these respondents exhibited no noteworthy differences from the broader respondent pool in terms of their views on who is currently winning, whether Ukraine should negotiate, or the likely outcome of the war.

Methodology

Premise surveyed 941 Ukrainian adults aged 18 years and older from May 24th to May 27th, 2022. Respondents were randomly chosen to complete the survey based on a stratified random sampling plan incorporating region, age, and gender based on the Ukraine Crisis: Monitoring population displacement through social media activity population estimates and were compensated for their time. Respondents completed the survey in Ukrainian and Russian on the Premise app.

About Premise

Premise offers a unique ability to quickly source information from real people on the ground in hard-to-reach places. Over four million people in 138 countries are using the Premise app on their smartphones, enabling our customers to monitor a situation over time and employ a data-driven approach to timely decision-making. To learn more about Premise, watch our tech demo or get in touch with us.