Explaining Ukraine’s resilience


Credit: IRI

Russian President Vladimir Putin “realizes he’s made a mistake” by ordering the invasion of Ukraine, said NATO’s former Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis, which explains why he has been pushing narratives that NATO pushed him into a corner and prompted the conflict.

Ukrainians believe they’ll win the war* and remain optimistic about the future, despite months of trauma, analysts Mikhail Alexseev and Serhii Dembitskyi observe. So what explains this resilience?

Two factors stand out, they write on the Washington Post’s Monkey Page blog, drawing on a PONARS-funded survey from Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology (UNASIS) and Rating Group Ukraine:

  • First, Russia’s military aggression is nothing new for Ukrainians. Since 2014, millions of Ukrainians had to adapt to hardship and insecurity — Ukrainian military and volunteer forces have fought and died in World War I-style trench warfare to stave off attacks by the Russian military and its proxies in Ukraine’s eastern regions, over a 250-mile front line. By December 2021, over 20 percent of respondents had experienced war losses, 60 percent knew at least one individual personally who fought in the war and 25 percent worried Ukraine might not survive as an independent nation.
  • Second, the Russian threat has united Ukrainians like never before. In December 2021, 63 percent of respondents saw their primary identity as citizens of Ukraine, compared to just 50 percent in a 2013 survey, shortly before Russia’s invasion of Crimea and Donbas. Close to 70 percent had trust in Ukraine’s armed forces, compared to about 40 percent in 2013. But by July, those figures had risen to 82 and 97 percent, respectively. 


*Some 98% of Ukrainians believe their country will definitely or likely win the war against Russia, according to the latest public opinion survey conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a core partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

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