German public support for Ukraine is falling
New polls show that attitudes to the conflict may be shifting
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its first anniversary later this month, it remains unclear how this conflict is supposed to end. Nowhere is this more evident than in Germany’s foreign policy, where Olaf Scholz is proving to be something of an enigma. While it is true that Germany has not been Kyiv’s loudest cheerleader, the reality is that military equipment has been delivered continuously. Only the United Kingdom and the United States have provided more provisions to the Ukrainian armed forces.
There could be good reasons why Chancellor Scholz’s rhetoric is more careful than that of, for example, his Green Foreign Secretary Annalena Baerbock, who “accidentally” declared a state of war between Russia and Germany. Polling shows that the German public supports Ukraine’s right to self-defence, but it also shows a strong desire to end the conflict as soon as possible. Towards the end of last month, a Forsa Poll revealed that over 80% believe that it is more important to end the war with negotiations than for Ukraine to win, with only 18% disagreeing with that statement.
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These results are supported by a series of Ipsos polls that track changes in public attitudes. Here the numbers are astounding: about 68% of Germans support accepting refugees from Ukraine (down from 82% in March 2022), while 56% say current economic problems make it impossible for Germany to financially support Ukraine — a position that was supported by only 47% in the previous poll. Another significant swing was recorded on the question of whether the problems of Ukraine matter for Germany and if the country should get involved. 43% agreed with this statement, an 11 percentage point swing in favour of Germany getting completely out of the conflict.
There is growing evidence of a public that is war-weary, and one that is slowly but surely becoming more concerned about their own economic condition. It is thus no surprise that one far-Left opponent of weapons deliveries has all of a sudden become a populist sensation. Sahra Wagenknecht, of the German party Die Linke (The Left) is currently reaching audiences across the spectrum with her anti-war rhetoric, fuelling rumours that she might start her own populist party.
Separate from her own political ambitions, she obviously struck a nerve with a significant part of the German public that see their interests as being subordinated by the political class’s focus on support for Ukraine.
For the moment this seems to be primarily a German phenomenon, but with the economic crisis deepening it is questionable if it will stay this way. Some countries like Hungary and Austria (for various reasons) have announced this week that they will under no circumstances supply weapons to Ukraine, and limit their support to humanitarian aid.
All of this does not bode well for the government in Kyiv, which has to make preparations for the growing possibility of a renewed Russian offensive in the spring, something that most likely can only be repelled with more, not fewer, weapons from the West.
Given the paucity of honest investigative reporting in Europe and America, it is a wonderful thing to see poll results like these. No polls have been either taken or reported in the US, and the coverage offered has relied upon Pentagon, CIA and “Expert” talking heads to tell us what to think. The propaganda and the absence of honest discussion is hugely alarming.
As compared to being in Putin’s Russia or Xi CCP techno totalitarian wonderland?
Yes sometimes we have some issues and need to call that out, but I think you need to go and live in a place with real paucity for a while to appreciate what we do in fact have.
Considering the fact that Germany funded their business model on cheap energy supplied by Putinist Russia, and for years benefited from this arrangement, building the biggest economy in Europe, I find it a bit lame for the author to include “commitments” (promised not delivered aid) and data without context of donor’s GDP. If you took the GDP into account, your argument doesn’t hold – it is Poland and the Baltics that provide the most support for Ukraine. Not to mention the burden of taking in the biggest number of refugees (Poland…).
According to the latest Eurobarometer poll – 89% of Poles are supportive of the humanitarian, military and financial aid for Ukraine.
So I am not really that surprised that the German society has increasingly negative attitude toward the help for Ukrainians to win this war. Germans are just getting more comfortable to say out loud what they’ve been thinking in private.
People in the Baltics, Poland, and Ukraine know, at least from 2014 or from when Nord Stream 2 became a thing, that Germany lost its moral capital and can’t be trusted.
Here’s a puzzle: Why are the Germans not more annoyed at the Americans?
One narrative is that the Americans have been increasing worried over the last 20 years that Germany’s deepening dependency on cheap Russian gas would shift influence in Europe away from the United States to a Teutono-Russian bloc. But, blowing up the Nordstream pipeline has definitely messed that up.
“Here’s a puzzle: Why are the Germans not more annoyed at the Americans?”
The Germans are only now gathering the courage to openly express doubts about the Ukraine war at a time when they find themselves more dependent than ever on the US, not least for enough liquid natural gas supplies to get them through the winter (and perhaps next winter).
I strongly suspect the Germans are annoyed with the Americans and uncomfortable with their dependence on the US; they just can’t say it in terms so blunt they provoke a backlash. I note that Scholz recently reiterated his commitment to maintaining commercial relations with China. I’m guessing Germany, and many other American allies, are slowly pivoting away from the US and seeking a more balanced relationship with other major powers.
No I suspect the reverse even if that can lead to some strong differences.
The US ain’t perfect and can put it’s own interests first – who doesn’t much of the time – and make some mistakes. But I think we all know who’s been a better ally for 80 years.
At same time we are awaking from our slumber to the real threat from the CCP, and the potential for major confrontation. Xi and his politburo dialled up the rhetoric not the West. The degree of CCP infiltration into western economies and technologies is becoming increasingly apparent and we are realising this is not benign.
Obviously the threat from Putin and the FSB mafia state well appreciated, but actually slightly less of a threat than the CCP.
So the underlying trend will IMO be a better appreciation of the importance of western alliances, even if what we see on the surface is some occasional tensions and differences.
During times of uncertainty nations always seek allies for protection. Just the lesson of history.
And a natural byproduct of Putin’s invasion.
Fear… fear of the Americans, yes; and fear of the Russians too.. two crazy but very powerful states.. who wouldn’t be?
Not sure why you got a downvote there, Liam, when you’ve made a reasonable observation. The Germans are caught between a rock and a hard place. They outsourced their energy when they could have increased their own nuclear energy capacities years ago. The chickens are coming home to roost.
They aren’t caught between a rock and a hard place they enthusiastically jumped in there.
There politics is over mercantilist, and they need to be careful not to divide the EU on this..for Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, Sweden etc this war is felt as a far more existential than a bit of an unecessary block on German exporting that really should end soon now.
The problem seems to be that Germany has ingeniously discarded almost all of its agency in this matter. Doesn’t really matter what Germans think or do.
Well, what are they being told in the news? I think the answer is shaped by what they are told…
The problem for Germany is that it has lost all agency WRT Ukraine.
Nearly every other EU country is willing to contribute to Zelensky’s govt. Scholz’s failed attempt to block the Leopards shows just how weak both he and Germany have become in political terms.
Germans can poll all they want. But by now, their opinions just aren’t relevant.
Except that Germany is still the richest country in Europe and as a result they dominate the EU. Sooner or later the Europeans will have had enough of supporting Zelinsky who is far from an angel.
Don’t see that happening anywhere but in parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
As long as eastern Europe remains strong, the US will keep supplying.
The east Europeans hate Russia almost as much as Ukraine does.
Just a fact.
BTW, did you predict 15,000 casualties in the war, or just 10,000? Can’t quite remember.
i didn’t predict any number for the casualties. But all I can say is that the US is playing a very very dangerous game, and one I don’t think they’ll win.
This would seem to be a classic example of where a government keeps very quiet, and leaves the voters to work it out for themselves.
The basic problem is that the coalition is hopelessly divided between the interventionists and the quietists. This coalition is turning out to be an excellent example of why coalitions are, generally, a terrible way tp govern a country.
It will continue to fall to the Americans, British and Poles to keep French and German toes in the fire. Perhaps the next move should be from the British, releasing a further regiment’s worth of Challenger 2s to Ukraine?
We already had more horses than tanks before we sent the last batch of 14(!) across. I’m sure our next move hangs heavy in the Russian balance.
Maybe we should send the horses?
‘Hopelessly divided’? I think that’s slight hyperbole. Are they all of similar opinion and do they have some different perspectives – no of course. Any coalition is going to have some differences, and often the power of alternative opinion makes the final decision making better. It’s held together pretty well in a v challenging situation. Fact others are keen to join suggests the plurality of opinion within not that off-putting.
Strangely similar to EU who’s demise had/has been predicted – but maybe a discussion for a separate stream.
Scholz’s term runs until late 2025, so this isn’t an immediate concern to a politician who thinks a bit more medium term. Get to late 2024 and electoral considerations may come much more into play but alot of water to flow under the bridge before then.
Ukraine probably knows that it’s best scenario is retake Crimea, (as without this it’ll never be safe) then a negotiation in the East. Probably a ceasefire type 38th parallel scenario as neither side would want to formally concede. Retaking Crimea is certainly possible. Russians only have two supply routes in and both in Himer range.
The question may be what role does NATO play in securing the negotiation and ceasefire? Clearly only NATO could provide Ukraine with the guarantee. Putin of course would find this unacceptable but may just have to accept it likes he going to have to accept Sweden and Finland. Will Scholz/Germany support this to bring things to earlier close?
Thus much hinges on the coming spring and summer fighting unfortunately desperate though that is. If we help them with everything poss just perhaps we can bring this all to a quicker end with a settlement and well in time not to get caught up in electoral cycles as Putin desperately hopes
I would be surprised if there is anything that NATO could offer the Russians that they would accept. The proven lies and other deceptions from Merkel and Hollande from past negotiations make future negotiations very difficult if not impossible. I doubt that they could offer anything that would be believed. Negotiations require trust and no trust currently exists.
Agree in part, but also I think that’s why a security guarantee may be key to ending this. It will test NATO for sure. Some won’t want to acquiesce to this. But if it secured peace some form of security support I think would be forthcoming. One assumes this will be being debated in depth behind closed doors.
Actually a Kremlin stooge, Fyodor Lukyanov, suggested something like that before 24 Feb.
Which shows how in the dark every Russian was before the invasion.
Whatever do you mean with “in the dark”. I became a (modest) stock investor in Russia 10 years ago. Why? Anyone with a sense of history and a balanced view could see that they, as a nation, were slowly and inexorable preparing themselves for full scale attack from the West. Many wrote about this (but not the people you read). Don’t confuse the Russians quoted on and by Western media with street level citizens. That’s what the CIA, MI6 and all the rest got wrong. Yet again. They haven’t been right on just about anything. Ever. Yet on we go, blood trail behind.
I suddenly understand why you chip into these discussions more on Putin’s side.
If you think the Ukrainians will retake Crimea or that the Russians will allow this to happen you are living in a land of make belief. Incidentally Crimea only became part of Ukraine in 1955 when the then President of the USSR, Kruschev, himself a Ukrainian, gifted Crimea to Ukraine.
Sorry, the US wouldn’t have allowed the use of modern tanks and longer range weapons if they were trying to rein Ukraine in.
Both enable an advance on the neck of the Crimean peninsula. Indeed if/when that happens, they may very well isolate it.
Whether that actually happens depends on whether Putin is as incompetent as he has been so far.
Terrifying. A country that endured a fascist government so recently cannot see the need to support to the hilt another country assailed by fascists. I think the opinion of voters here is irrelevant. What we are seeing in Ukraine has startling similarities to Nazi expansion in 1939 and must be resisted at all costs. Furthermore, the German reliance on cheap energy from a gangster state was in no small way responsible for this conflict. Do they feel no sense of responsibility?
Sorry James, but are you even familiar with the (proper) definition of what constitutes a “fascist” system. Applied properly most western countries qualify. These terms are used so loosely these days they they’re devoid of meaning. No wonder, then, that almost no-one seems able to conduct a coherent conversation, anywhere.
The suggestion that Russia’s SMO (plus escalation) is analogous to Hitler in 1939 is more of the same. Hitler, Hitler – and Nazis! – everywhere! (but not in Ukraine, of course). Russia sent in 250K troops for the SMO. Whatever you and I might think of whether it was a good idea, an attempt to invade and occupy Ukraine, and then Europe, it wasn’t.
Even now the bridges crossing the Dniepr remain functional, when they could be wiped on command, and every day. Have you stopped to consider why? Or are you, like most, awaiting the next assertion about that from Sky/BBC/CNN.
Agreed. It is a gross act of ignorance to suggest that this is in any way similar to the Third Reich.
Yes comparisons to Hitler and the poor use of the phrase ‘Fascist’ don’t help. But this was an Invasion and we would be displaying gross ignorance and myopia to suggest otherwise. The fact Putin thought it would be easy does not diminish that. (I mean in the UK the Home Secretary thinks a few defenceless people in a rubber dingy is an ‘invasion’).
As regards historical comparison – it was perhaps initially like Hungary 56 or Czechoslovakia in 68, but with a difference – they fought back and hard.
Realpolitik is complicated, messy and involves eventual compromise. But a question for our age will be ‘who’s side were you on’?
Was the $5Bn spent by the US on fomenting Maidan not an “invasion”? Or do only tanks count? Have you read anything at all about how that little incident came about and played out? A democratically elected leader ousted under an EU backed/sponsored agreement to guarantee a new round of elections? Come on man.
Where’s the evidence for £5B claim? I would like to read that, genuinely.
That aside I’m not sure what point you are making about the 2014 ‘Revolution of Dignity’ as many Ukrainians call it. It’s pretty clear the majority did not support Yanukovych’s proposed closer alignment with Putin, and that’s even more borne out now. He was voted out of power by the Ukrainian parliament, I think unanimously.
I think for you to conflate this with the Russian Invasion Feb 22 is v weak. I do struggle, I admit, to understand why there are so many apologists for Putin apparent on UnHerd. Occasionally I think an anger with US Foreign Policy blinds some. Whatever US does, and it does make mistakes, it is not comparable nor in any way equivalent to the brutality displayed by Putin.
Not sure you understand a fascist system actually.To begin with – a fascist system does not have “one person one vote” so most western counties do not qualify.
Sorry but, no:
The presence or lack of a “one person one vote” system is not what defines a fascist system. It rests primarily on the intertwined dynamics between capital and politics, and how – where, to whom and by whose consent and to what end – capital is deployed within the nation state. With nationalism (“the flag”) in the center. All other considerations are semantic, and downstream from this. I shouldn’t have to point this out, but will: Western liberal democracies have proven, without any shred of doubt, that they now rest on an oligarchic, corporatist “pay to play” model where capital TELLS government which polices to adopt, and fund; “the best democracy money can buy!”. One person one vote has become so…passe…hasn’t it?
Yet we seem to have regime changes all the time.
When did we see that in fascist regimes–unless they’d just been toppled.
But oddly, the Russians say exactly that about Ukraine.
It is full of “Ukro-Nazis.”
Personally I think Russia is more Stalinist than Hitler’s Germany, since Stalin killed far more people.
But a nation that poisons and starves its political opponents, attacks other nations to gain more territory for its “unique ethnicity” and suppresses all dissent does also look at least a little “fascist.”
Regarding who does what in the sandpit, surely it’s not that hard Mr Logan? Make a list – left hand column, all the countries that, post WW2, were illegally sanctioned, overtly and/or covertly destabilized, regime changed, colour revolutioned, bombed, politically isolated or attacked or invaded by the USA/NATO cabal. In the right-hand column, make a list of same for countries that suffered the same fate under Russia (hell, while we’re at it, add China!). Then tally.
There. See? Fixed it for you.
Send thanks by way of donation to any charity of your choice. Soros’ Open Society Foundation, perhaps?
No one can or should look away from or try to justify what Stalinism (and/or Maoist cultural revolution) delivered on the subjects they presided over. Not ever. But to conflate Russian resistance with present-day American/EU/NATO “golden billion” leadership is a Category Error. Here you go, see: (Category mistake – RationalWiki). As for the charges about assassination and such, refer to the CIA’s own admissions that Putin’s popularity numbers are not fake. So the guy who has 80% support and “plays 3D geostrategic chess (when it suits the narrative)” is terrified of Skripal et al. sorry to burst your bubble but, hey, they not only like – but trust! – him! Dumbass Russians. What do they know? All good though, since YOU lot know what’s right for those savage Slavs, don’t you?
Agreed. Whatever the technical definition of the term ‘facist’ is, if it looks like a fascist and smells like a fascist, then it is a fascist in my book. And Russia certainly qualifies. The people of Eastern Europe know what it is to live under fascist rule, and they sure as hell don’t want them back. Whatever our gripes with being in the American sphere of influence we don’t feel this way about them, and we know we’re very fortunate to have our states in the western part of our continent. Just like the Hungarians in ’56, the Czechs in ’68 and the Poles in the 1980s, the Ukrainians want to be free of the paralysing grip of Russian authoritarianism and it should be our absolute priority to help them.
The fact that German opinion has shifted suggests that the change has more to do with trying to preserve their status-quo, rather then a genuine pacifist streak.
But I think the flaw in this reasoning is that a negotiated settlement — such as conceding Donbas and calling it a day — will probably just result in further conflict being delayed as Russia prepares for a future onslaught. In the long term this would be even more damaging for Germany.
Pretty much as happened in 2014 — and Germany was very much a part of that agreement.
I think the only negotiated solution that concedes any land to Russia that could have any chance of success would entail an agreement for NATO to immediately take control of the new borders.
Even so, I can’t imagine Ukraine conceding anything more than Donetsk and Luthansk, and that ONLY if Crimea his handed back.
Except, now that negotiations are off the table (with thanks to Mr Johnson last April, and Western-funded and coerced escalation since), the plain fact is that such “concessions” will not be within Ukraine’s (current) leadership’s power to make.
Then again, isn’t that what Messrs Borrell and Stoltenberg asserted (wanted?): “Victory on the battlefield”, as I recall. Yes, that was it: victory on the battlefield, piped the political elite class nouveau …with zero skin in the game.
This is nonsense, negotiatons are off the table because Ukraine and Russia have incompatible minimum demands and have done since day 0 of the present conflict. Talking right now would be absolutely pointless, both sides are convinced they can get a better deal if they keep fighting.
Anyone bleating about negotiations at this point either doesn’t understand the situation or is pushing an angle.
Wars nearly always end because A) one side wins, or B) they have fought to exhaustion.
I can’t think of any that were ended by “men of good will” coming together to make a fair compromise.
Wrong. Read more. Russia sent in a tiny force, incorrectly – and foolishly – assuming it would make clear its red line about NATO expansion into Ukraine. Argue the merits of that all you can (they were naive) but the plain fact is that Ukrainian leadership met, engaged and all but acceded to conceding that ground. Till thatch-headed clown Johnson trotted in and convinced them to go all in.
When hundreds of thousands of (mostly) Ukranian and (fewer) Russian boys and men fertilize the plains of Donbass and beyond, and Ukraine no longer exists as a state, and the EU has been holed beneath the waterline and the global monetary system lies in ruins, some might venture that this was a high price to pay given that Russia got what it wanted all along: a new security architecture in Eurasia that meets it (historically driven) concerns and fears. Irrational? Well, you’re not Russian.
Is it not as bad to have an attitude of ‘ not my fight, not my problem, and it’s costing me so please end it and tough if it compromises your liberty’, which one senses is what you may be implying?
There is no indication the views of Stolenberg et al are anything but a reflection of the overwhelming majority view of Ukrainians. They would have collapsed ages ago, regardless of weapons support from us, if they did not want to fight with everything they have.
Stoltenberg is not a Ukrainian. Cheap, nes pas?
Yes indeed that is a fact. But that was not the contention as you know. That said I suspect he’s spoken to many more Ukrainians than you or I.
Truth in advertising: I don’t believe the proposition that Russia/Putin are interested in a “future onslaught”. But, please make the case. Folks out here, including myself, will be interested.
There are folks, of course, who compare the business in Ukraine to what Hitler referred to as “the Czech affair,” after which he came to perceive that the French and British would “do nothing” in the face of further German incursions. Does “future onslaught” contemplate something like that–like Russia sweeping up the Baltic states?
Since there actually was a “future onslaught” after 2014, and Putin claims that his country cannot exist without Ukraine, er, what do you conclude from that?
If Ukraine is a threat, although hundreds of miles from Moscow, Estonia is even more of a threat, since it’s just a short distance further to St Petersburg. Been an invasion route several times in the past.
The Baltics are far more of a threat to Putin’s Russian than Ukraine.
Kind of agree. South and North Korea though have never agreed on the border, and it’s 70 years since the fighting stopped there. So messy 38th parallel type solutions have an historical antecedent allowing both sides to say they never ceded the principle.
But first comes the exhaustion.
Then the armistice talks.
Before 24 Feb I would have considered that a fair compromise–let Russia hold a genuine referendum in both places, and let Ukraine join the EU and NATO.
But now I can’t see Ukraine accepting anything like that. We’ll just have to let the war play out to the end, as nearly always happens.
It doesn’t matter if some western countrys’ support dwindles, Vlad. West has no option but to continue until Russia is subdued if it wants to survive. And survive it wants.
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