Western public support for Ukraine is falling
New polls show that war fatigue may be setting in
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, Western leaders have been working to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to the Ukrainian cause. As part of a surprise visit to Kyiv today, US President Joe Biden announced new military assistance and further sanctions on Moscow, while in Munich, European allies promised more military and financial support to Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Yet for all the solidarity on show among the leadership, cracks may be starting to emerge back home. In America, a new AP poll has found that less than half of Americans (48%) are in favour of providing weapons to Ukraine, down from 60% in May 2022. Separately, a Pew poll from this year revealed that the share of Americans who say the US is providing too much support to Ukraine has grown from 7% in March 2022 to 26% in January 2023. What’s more, the share of Americans who said that the US is not providing enough support has dropped from 42% to 20% in the same period.
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Biden may only have to concern himself with public opinion in his own country, but EU leaders must also contend with maintaining unity between their countries too. New polls reveal a wide spread in opinions about the conflict, even if most countries are generally supportive of Ukraine. According to the EU’s Autumn 2022 barometer, approval of the EU’s support for Ukraine is resilient at 74%, with the highest figures in Sweden (97%) and Finland (95%) and the lowest further south in Bulgaria (48%) and Greece (48%).
But these questions, commissioned by the EU, are (perhaps deliberately) vague. Respondents are asked whether they approve or disapprove of the EU’s ‘support’ for Ukraine without detailing what support that entails (beyond humanitarian, financial and military) and whether they are ‘satisfied’ with the cooperation between member states.
Other polls are more enlightening. For instance, one recent Ipsos survey shows a downward trend in support for sending weapons and/or air-defence systems to Ukraine in Europe, with German support falling below half for the first time (down by seven percentage points to 48% between March-April 2022 and November-December 2022) and the Netherlands (down by six percentage points to 59%).
More surprising, though, is that even among Ukraine’s loudest supporters there appears to be some degree of war-weariness: in the same Ipsos survey, there was a 10-percentage point decline among Poles supporting the most stringent economic sanctions against Russia and an 11-percentage point decline in accepting Ukrainian refugees.
Out of all the EU countries, Germany is a particularly interesting case. Despite a wholesale reconfiguration of German foreign policy, Olaf Scholz has faced heavy criticism for perceived slowness in providing military support to Kyiv. Now, he has turned into one of Ukraine’s loudest defenders, urging other countries to speed up arms deliveries to Ukraine and warning that it would be “wise to prepare for a long war”. But how have Germans received this message back home?
Previous polling may offer some clues. According to one January Forsa poll, an astonishing 80% of Germans said that it was more important to end the conflict quickly with negotiations than for Ukraine to win. Similarly, a survey of nine EU countries by Euroskopia found that over 60% of Austrians and Germans want the war to end quickly whereas the Dutch, Portuguese and Polish are strongly opposed to this idea.
War fatigue thus appears to be setting in faster in Germany than in any other country, with public opinion hardening in recent months. Almost half of Germans (43%) now agree that ‘the problems of Ukraine are none of our business, and we should not interfere’, marking an 11-percentage point increase from March-April 2022 to November-December 2022. This may go some way towards explaining the rise of Sahra Wagenknecht, one of the co-leaders of Die Linke, who is, with some success, spearheading an anti-war movement in Germany.
Western leaders displayed remarkable levels of unity during the first year of the war. One year in, however, and their voters are beginning to be more hesitant in their commitment.
For Europeans, the reality of a prolonged war is setting in. They are continually being asked to house many Ukrainian refugees which will inevitably create some social tensions. They are also feeling the ongoing cost of this war more directly than Americans. And I think there is a growing sense that the Americans are playing their own geopolitical game in which all of Europe is a pawn.
I don’t sense a strong anti-war movement here in the US. I think Biden still has freedom to expand this war if that’s what he wants, although he will probably go into full campaign mode later this year and any setback in Ukraine could play badly in the US presidential election. European leaders have to decide if they dare say no to the US and pull back their support for the war.
What a mess.
”I don’t sense a strong anti-war movement here in the US.”
WHAT???????? What do you watch and read? The New Your Times and NPR and the other Global Agenda outlets?
Try Rumble, the censor free youtube sort of thing – it is were people who speak truth Have to Go – Try on runble: 100% Anti War!
Bannon’s War Room
Salty Cracker (Reeeee)
and on and on – everyone not censored is anti-war, get out of your bubble.
Anything not totally Lefty, not NYT agenda driven is 100% against this EVIL WAR. Go to any construction site and ask them what they think of the $100,000,000,000 to Zalenski – they will tell you to take Biden’s War in Ukraine and stuff it up your A**.
Yes I am fervently against it but I don’t know about anyone else because they may be too afraid to speak out, it’s so politicized now.
You don’t sense a strong anti-war feeling? Can’t wait until 2024 when folks have to vote. Biden just dumped ANOTHER $500 million on the Ukraine – we’re even paying their civil servants- but he couldn’t even make a visit to the disaster in Ohio and it’s taken FEMA two weeks to chime in. Our politicians need to be booted out – they have lost the plot. They certainly are not helping the American people.
I think it may be “endless war” fatigue.
Yes, the war in Ukraine has not been going on for just 1 year, but 9 years. And it could easily go on for many years more.
One official in Ukraine talks about invading Russia and parking tanks in Red Square. I don’t think he is serious, but the idea that Ukraine will win a quick victory seems farfetched.
Is there anyone who didn’t see this coming? I said last year after it became clear Russia could not win quickly that they would still win slowly, because Russian resolve was and is far greater than the political will of American and European voters. This is only going to get worse as the war drags onward. Eventually politicians will have to bend to political will and the guns, bullets, missiles, and tanks will stop coming. Ukraine needs to either win quickly or decide what they can live with as far as a peace deal is concerned. American and European support is not unlimited or indefinite. I don’t imagine it lasts longer than another year or so at current levels.
Once Europeans understand fully that they have spent an extra trillion euros (EU figures) to subsidise energy prices this year alone and it will be a lot more for the winters of 23 and 24 I’m sure you’d only get 10% of the population agreeing to continuing the war.
I agree and wish that the cost of this conflict to individual lives, our economies and the economies in under-developed African countries was highlighted in the MSM… We are told that the majority of British citizens support a continuation of this war indefinitely but there has never been any poll to substantiate this claim.
Any war quickly becomes a Manichean struggle. Our side is good. The other side evil. But real life is much more nuanced and complex.
Truth is, the war in Ukraine will not resolve all the issues between the two countries. They share a long history and will still need to live together. Even Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s first language is Russian.
Joe Biden’s trip to Kyiv (or is it Kiev?) today was no more than a photo op and helped no one but himself as he tries to ramp up his campaign for another term.
We need a strategist to start sniffing out a deal between Moscow and Kyiv. I hear Donald Trump is available. He would be better than anyone Joe Biden has on his team.
When did Donald Trump become a “strategist” ? I bet even he would be surprised to hear that.
Trump was completely correct about German short sightedness in getting rid of their nuclear plants. He was also correct about NATO – that its mission needs to be rethought. And he was right to push the Europeans to keep their promise to spent 2% on defense. Trump was and remains anti-war in his outlook. He’s a builder not a destroyer. We would not be where we are today had he stayed in power. I swore to my husband that we would be in war within months once Biden took over – and here we are.
But that’s not what CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, NYT, WAPO, Apple News, Yahoo and therefore, every second level news source says. It’s not the approved narrative.
I meant strategist in the sense of a dealmaker with a strategy in mind for getting things done, not a politician who yammers on about abstractions (like “we will defend democracy”) that have no relevance in the real world.
I think of how Donald Trump handled Kim Jong Un. He didn’t end up with a deal, but he turned a volatile, dangerous situation into a stable, safe one. All without trickery or deceit. Now Joe Biden has let things boil over again.
The only winner in this war is America. I’m surprised more people haven’t cottoned on. European industry and its population have been devastated by high energy prices. Meanwhile, self sufficient America cashes in in many ways. Flogging weapons, flogging LNG to Europe, and seeing its industry get a lift. And it faces no imminent danger either.
But hey. Let’s keep cheering for more war….
What do you think the US should do at this point?
France is one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers and dealers…..don’t think your idea holds…
This is my astonishment, precisely there. Why Europeans do this?
Exorbitant energy costs, millions of refugees, weapons restocking cost, inflation, what for? To place American missiles another 300 miles closer to Moscow?
Thank you, Europe, what is in this for you?
Some weariness not really a surprise.
The analogy is not ‘like for like’ but perhaps of interest is that almost 60% of Brits & French supported the Munich agreement in 38 (polling was in its infancy). Yet at same time almost 70% supported rearmament. So there was nuance – ‘we don’t really want to fight but we better prepare for the worse’.
The Poll questions here don’t touch on what the public might deduce from this conflict more medium term. They are ‘leading’ questions outlining a negative consequence from the war as opposed to a potential positive. That will undoubtedly make a difference in how folks respond. Had a question been ‘would you like Putin to kill Zelensky and create a puppet state in Ukraine’ you can imagine how the public might have answered. And hence you get the point – phraseology of polling question makes a big difference.
That aside, leaders lead public opinion and don’t just follow it.
Why isn’t there an effort to open negotiations between Ukraine and Russia?
It’s sad that Joe Biden can’t seem to understand how wars work. Bellicose bluster doesn’t end them, it prolongs them. We should be telling both sides they need to compromise, and searching for solutions. That’s how you make peace.
Why doesn’t Joe Biden do something really worthwhile and propose a peace plan? No matter how this turns out, some thorny issues need to be addressed. Like Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol, built in 1772 before the US even existed. What will happen to that?
Don’t forget the wise saying, “the purpose of war is peace, not victory.” And Marcus Tillius Cicero, “As for me, I cease not to advocate peace. It may be on unjust terms, but even so it is more expedient than the justest of civil wars.” And Moshe Dayan, “If you want peace you don’t talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies.”
I’m advocating peace, not appeasement. I’m saying that we do best when we can separate the real world from fantasy. When we accept that Russia has some legitimate interests that must be considered if we want a durable peace in the region.
Donald Trump tried to do that when he met with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, but other politicians and the press wouldn’t stand for that. They insisted on the same kind of bellicose posturing that Joe Biden is showing. More’s the pity. Too often that results in more war.
Biden won’t offer anything because he has nothing to offer. He is just a figurehead, entering the stage like Rocky and talking like Dirty Harry with a support staff that look like hungry ghouls and vampires. It’s tragic. He doesn’t know the difference between fact and rhetoric but thinks he’s king of the world. What a dangerous clown.
This was always going to happen, people don’t want to support the losing side
Yet people still support Russia.
A relic of the Cold War, perhaps?
We don’t support Russia we just understand that they have a long, complicated history that we doesn’t involve us.
When one side is ruled by an ex KGB nutter with an inferiority complex and nuclear weapons people are naturally anxious and want it to be concluded as soon as possible.
Frankly Ukraine is “ a far away country of which we know little” and it is NOT worth a nuclear war under ANY circumstances
So let’s move on to the big one …….China.
He may be an “exKGB nutter with an inferiority complex” but he has a nuclear arsenal and was already gifted Krim by the Obama administration.
The Crimea was always Russian
Not always, no. It was taken from Khans (Osman allies) in the 18th century.
True but it is not part of Ukraine and their claims to sovereignty do them no credit
Very nicely put.
Do we really have to do the china war though? I’m not sold on that either tbh.
Shut up and eat the Bugs!
The government says you WILL like them! Bright, insecty future ahead….
The overwhelming majority supports what EU governments do for Ukraine, the map shows. The problem is with the main two goals stated:
1) Defeat Russia. No less than drive it to the ground, full submission/capitulation.
2) Regime change in Russia. Mr. Putin must go.
Either goal is unrealistic.
Defeat a nuclear power (actually nuclear weapons leader or so) on the turf it considers its own (legitimately or not). Really?
If Mr. Putin retires then what? With his support over 80% there will be a replacement providing the same policy. Mr Medvedev, the most probable candidate is even more hawkish.
I feel sorry for all dreamers believing that Russia can be somehow surgically completely defeated but all goes nicely without wiping out a country or two. Russian war manual is quite clear about what happens.
As for the 2) — Mr Putin’s approval went from 71% to 80%+ from Feb’22, according to anti-Putin Levada poll center. Unless he is not considered to be replaced with somebody appointed in Brussels :-), well… how can you change a regime with 80% support? Try N.Korea first.
The thousand-years hatred is driving the EU to a dead-end (OMG, literally). It is not true sympathy for Ukrainians (same Slavs basically). And it is not really some anti-war thing (look around how many wars the West has and had). This nationality-based hatred (yes, the Nutcracker and Uncle Vana cancellations!) is bothering me. The US is in this for power and money (we always are), but what about Europeans, what is their rationale?
So what ? Of course support is bound to drop over time as people worry more about more recent and pressing issues closer to home. This is entirely expected and would happen in any scenario. What would be useful is to know how large the drop is compared to comparable historical cases.
But that is largely beside the point. The question is not whether “support” is falling (however that is measured), but whether there is active public support to drop support for Ukraine. It is very easy to say “I’m not totally happy”, but much harder to say “I propose a better alternative”. We see this all the time with mid-term protest voting at by elections between general elections. You need to be very careful that you aren’t measuring noise.
The other point neglected in the rather careless article is that the public across all these countries continue to have net support for Ukraine. The author neglects to mention what a high base the support started from. Unlike Blair’s Iraq war.
Finally, there is no way western political leaders can now back away from supporting Ukraine. Quite apart from anything else, in the UK (and arguably USA), this is about the only policy where the government is generally seen to be a) doing the right thing and b) be doing it competently.
Anyone thinking that public opinion surveys are going to strongly affect western policy in support of Ukraine at this point is seriously deluded. Where it may make a difference is in how far the west will go in supporting peace terms for Ukraine (where I suspect that Ukraine may need to cede some Russian speaking areas).
The Europeans might not be brave enough to back away from Ukraine in public but it is already happening behind the scenes as the promised weaponry doesn’t arrive and more excuses are made as Ukraine’s situation deteriorates.
Ukraine has been conned by the biggest bullshitters in the Western world, Biden and Johnson They must be fools, as they know they haven’t the weapons, ammunition or manpower and aren’t likely to get them, yet keep up their pathetic bluster. Begging their way to victory? Not likely. I’ll be surprised if they manage to get a draw.
The USA should not be funding the bulk of the conflict- we are grossly in debt. The Europeans are happy that we are doing so but they should be ashamed that they are not pulling their weight. They are weak & even cowardly.
Probably too late to affect the course of the war.
Politicians favoring peace first have to be elected. That’s years off for many nations.
I would have said this will be a long war, but Putin himself has reached his Delusional Phase.
He has inexplicably attacked with his half-trained “mobiks” instead of fully training them up, while remaining on the defensive.
By spring Ukraine will be ready for its own offensive, against a far weaker foe.
Without Putin the Russian Army might have revitalized.
With Putin at the helm this is no longer possible.
A far greater asset to Ukraine than even Zelensky.
Seriously, pls start following the military aspect of this.
Most important, ask yourself why Sievetodonetsk was the last significant gain by Rossiya.
I am following it, the Russians are slowly winning. the MSM is full of lies and BS, and so are you
One example, its close to a year since we got the first claims that the Russians were running out of missiles and other weapons, a year on and the Russians are still firing missiles/drones ect, the MSM is full of stories that just don’t add up, they can’t tell the truth
And Putin still lives contrary to numerous Western reports that he could drop dead at any moment- and he incredibly popular in Russia.
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