Most Russians against ending Ukraine war if captured land returned - poll

FILE - Russian pilot group Strizhi of 5 of MIG-29 performs during the Moscow International Aviation and Space Show, 2007.
FILE - Russian pilot group Strizhi of 5 of MIG-29 performs during the Moscow International Aviation and Space Show, 2007. Copyright SERGEY PONOMAREV/AP2007
By Joshua Askew
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Support for the Kremlin's war aims endures, despite mounting losses and the continued economic fallout of the invasion, according to a poll.


A majority of Russians would not support ending the Ukraine war if it meant giving up occupied territories, according to a recent survey.

The Moscow-based Levada Center found only 34% of Russians would support Vladimir Putin if he stopped the invasion and returned Ukrainian territory under Russia's control.

Yet, 70% of respondents would support ending the war without this condition.

Pollsters at the Levada Center split respondents into two groups and asked the question in two different ways.

Surveying public opinion in Russia is complicated, with the Kremlin's war propaganda and fierce repression of anti-war sentiment obscuring the real picture. 

Respondents to the Levada Center survey cited protecting residents of Ukraine's Donbas region - home to a large minority of ethnic Russians - as the main reason for starting the war. 

Their findings indicated a significant level of support for the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.

Asked if they personally supported the Russian military's actions in the country, 76% expressed approval, a trend that has remained relatively stable over the past year.

Regarding continuing the war or initiating peace negotiations, 56% of those surveyed favoured starting peace talks. That's higher than the 51% recorded in a September survey.

If respondents had the opportunity to go back in time and influence the decision to start the war, 41% said they would cancel such a decision. Around the same number (43%) would support it.

There were some demographic and regional differences, however.

Younger respondents aged between 18 and 24 were more likely to want talks on ending the conflict at 69%.

Moscovites, meanwhile, were less enthusiastic about peace talks, with only 38% supporting them.

The survey also highlighted the prevailing belief among Russians that the invasion will continue into the future.

Forty-six per cent of those surveyed predicted the war would extend for another year, while 23% anticipated it lasting another six months to a year.

Assessing whether Russians support the war or not is a complex issue. 

In authoritarian regimes, where people often cannot freely express their opinions, real public attitudes can be difficult to reveal in surveys. 

The Kremlin has viciously suppressed anti-war sentiment and ramped up efforts aimed at convincing the population that Ukraine is allegedly an existential threat to Russia.  


It has repeatedly claimed that if Russia did not attack Ukraine, Kyiv or the West would strike first - a line ordinary Russians continually echo.

The Levada Center conducted this survey from 19 to 25 October. The sample size was 1,607 adults from various regions across Russia.

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