December 04, 2022

War Support Falling


War Support Falling
War refugees in Irpin, Ukraine. March 2022. Palinchak.

The news site Meduza got its hands on a secret, internal Kremlin poll (conducted by the Federal Security Service and intended for government use only, not for public disclosure). According to the publication, the poll found that 55% of Russians favor negotiations with Ukraine, and only 25% are in favor of continuing the war.

"These figures are broadly consistent with the results of an October survey by the Levada Center," Meduza reported. In that poll, 57% of respondents favored peace talks, and 27% favored continued hostilities.

This is a significant shift. This summer, just 30% of Russians were in favor of peace talks with Ukraine.

Meduza said that, according to its two highly-placed sources, these trending poll numbers are leading the Kremlin to limit future public polls on Russians' attitude toward the war.

“Anything is possible now, it’s better not to do it,” one source close to the Kremlin said. "It is better not to report these dynamics [changing attitudes to the war]," said another.

The primary driver of changing attitudes, said Dennis Volkov, of independent pollster Levada, in a previous interview with Meduza, was the September mobilization:

"It is the unwillingness of citizens to personally participate in hostilities. Their support [of fighting] remains high, but people's desire to personally participate in this is quite small."

The previously passive public stance toward a war that was far away has been replaced by a sense of more immediate and personal danger. According to sociologist Grigory Yudin, this fall [after mobilization] Russians faced "the destruction of everyday life and a sense of danger." Negotiations are now also more appealing, he said, because the population has begun to sense "a loss of faith in victory, due to battlefield defeats and the absence of a convincing theory of how exactly Russia will win."

None of this, however, is predictive of mass anti-war demonstrations. Even so, the Kremlin is planning to tread cautiously.

For now, Meduza's Kremlin sources say, "it is better not to heat up the situation and not to annoy people again." The sources said that state and pro-government media outlets are already receiving recommendations "not to peddle the topic of war," and to focus on "a more positive agenda."

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