Research on public opinion in the Donbas on the eve of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has brought death and destruction to thousands of people and places, while displacing millions of innocent civilians within Ukraine and across Europe.

My colleagues and I have tried down the years to work with the best Ukrainian and Russian survey companies to capture public opinion in the contested region of the Donbas. Just before the outbreak of the war (in January 2022), through the determined and dedicated efforts of Dr John O’Loughlin in particular, we were able to organize a relatively short CATI (computer-aided-phone-interview) survey on both sides of the then dividing line in the Donbas. This research involved three survey companies, Levada Marketing Center from Moscow, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in Kyiv, and R Research which is officially based in the UK but operates from Kyiv.

Here are some links to the initial public presentation of the findings from this research, which was funded by ZOIS, the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin, directed by Dr Gwendolyn Sasse.

Before the invasion:

Ukrainians in our survey weren’t enthusiastic about NATO exercises close to Russia. Washington Post, 19 January 2022.

Will Russia recognize the independence of two eastern Ukraine republics? Here’s what people there think. Washington Post, 17 February 2022.

Virtual Panel Presentation on Donbas Public Opinion at the Kennan Institute, 23 February 2022.

After the invasion:

Do People in Donbas Want to be ‘Liberated’ by Russia? Washington Post, 15 April, 2022.

The Perils and Benefits of Surveying in a Conflict Zone: Cautionary Tales and Results from Donbas 2020-2022, video panel on the Donbas research for ZOIS, 19 May, 2022.

Academic articles based on this research will be forthcoming.

About Dr Gerard Toal

Irish born academic living in Washington DC researching geopolitical competition and territorial conflicts in post-Communist Europe. Author of CRITICAL GEOPOLITICS (1996), BOSNIA REMADE (w C Dahlman) and NEAR ABROAD: PUTIN, THE WEST AND THE CONTEST OVER UKRAINE AND THE CAUCASUS (Oxford University Press, 2017).
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