Ukraine war has made the West more united

Martin Banks
Credit: Reuters

Global public opinion one year into Russia’s war on Ukraine

Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) A new poll suggests that Russia’s war on Ukraine has consolidated ‘the West.’

But the study also reveals a wide gap between the West and the ‘rest’ when it comes to their desired outcomes for the war and differing understandings of why the US and Europe support Ukraine.

It says that, in contrast, citizens in China, India, and Turkiye prefer a quick end to the war even if Ukraine has to concede territory.
The poll was conducted by the respected European Council on Foreign Relations.

ECFR’s survey of 15 countries (including 9 EU member states, the US, Britain, China, and Russia), through YouGov, Datapraxis, and Gallup International, found:

  • Russia’s invasion is no longer seen as a war in Europe, but as a war on Europe.
    Contrary to last summer the prevailing view in Europe (44% in Great Britain, and 38% across nine EU countries) is now that Ukraine needs to regain all of its territories, even if it means a long war or more Ukrainians being killed and displaced – while fewer (22% in Great Britain, and 30% in EU-9) believe that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine should rather stop as soon as possible, even if that means Ukraine giving control of areas to Russia.
  • Over half of those surveyed in the US (55%), Britain (64%), and the nine EU countries (54%) perceive Russia as an “adversary”, while further 16%, 12%, and 12%, respectively, perceive it as a “rival”. Just 14% in the US, 15% in the EU-9, and 8% in Britain look at Russia as either an “ally” which shares their interests or as a “necessary partner” with whom they must strategically cooperate.
  • Across the West, many citizens now hold extremely negative perceptions of Russia – usually describing it as “aggressive” and “untrustworthy”. In the US, 45% and 41% hold this view, whilst, in the EU-9, 48% and 30% see Russia as “aggressive” and “untrustworthy”. The feeling in Britain was even more pronounced, with 57% and 49% of respondents selecting these two perceptions when asked to pick up to 2 out of 10 proposed descriptions.
  • Other global powers, including China, India, and Turkey, still see Russia as a “strong” presence, as well as an “ally”, and “partner”, despite Moscow’s three-day “special operation” now reaching the one-year mark. Around three-quarters of those surveyed in China (76%), India (77%), and Turkey (73%) believe that Russia is either stronger, or as strong, as they claim they viewed it before the outbreak of war. They also, in some cases overwhelmingly (as high as 79%), see Russia as either an “ally” or “partner” of their country

-Many, outside the West, believe the war should end as soon as possible – even if that means Ukraine is forced to cede territory. In China (42%), Turkey (48%), and India (54%), pluralities or majorities hold this view, whilst just 23%, 27%, and 30% in each, respectively, believe Ukraine should regain all its territory, even if it means a longer conflict.

The survey was authored by foreign policy experts Ivan Krastev, Timothy Garton Ash, and Mark Leonard, and forms part of a collaboration between the think-tank and the Dahrendorf Programme at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

The authors said, “In our view, the West would be well advised to treat India, Turkiye, Brazil, and other comparable powers as new sovereign subjects of world history rather than as objects to be dragooned onto the right side of history.

“These countries do not represent some new third bloc or pole in international politics. They do not share a common ideology among themselves. Indeed, they often have divergent or competing interests. They know they do not have the global influence of the US or China. But they are certainly not content to adjust to the whims and plans of the superpowers,” they concluded.

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Martin Banks is an experienced British-born journalist who has been covering the EU beat (and much else besides) in Brussels since 2001. Previously, he had worked for many years in regional journalism in the UK and freelanced for national titles. He has a keen interest in foreign affairs and has closely followed the workings of the European Parliament and MEPs in particular for some years.