Fifty percent of Russians want the war in Ukraine to end in 2024, according to a poll from the Russian Field polling group published Friday.
The poll asked 1,600 respondents what they wish for Russia next year. Only 6% said they wished for Russia’s victory.
The poll is the second recent survey indicating that Russians are growing increasingly weary of the war in Ukraine. A December poll by the independent organization Chronicle found that the number of Russians who fully supported the invasion has almost halved since February 2023.
Internal tensions around the war emerge in Russia
The war is exacerbating social tensions in Russia ahead of the March 2024 presidential elections, the Institute for the Study of War wrote in an analysis of Chronicle’s findings. More than 180,000 complaints about the Ministry of Defense have been sent to the president since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Unpaid salaries, the lack of leave for soldiers, and improper medical care have sparked dissent, according to the Russian independent outlet iStories. The wives and mothers of Russian conscripts have started holding public protests to bring their men home. Similar protests drove an anti-war movement during the first Chechen war in 1994 that helped turn public opinion against the conflict.
Other polls are more skeptical of opposition to the war
But there is plenty of polling data to cast doubt on the notion that Russians are largely opposed to the war. A poll from November conducted by Russia’s leading independent polling company, Levada, found that 68% of Russians support continuing the war, even as the findings also suggested that a majority of Russians would also back peace talks. The vast majority of Russians are apathetic to the war and continue to believe there is no alternative to Vladimir Putin, the pollsters wrote in an analysis.
Censorship and snitches makes Russia’s public opinion hard to gauge
Amid Russia’s harsh crackdown on antiwar statements, some experts have said that public opinion may be all but impossible to gauge. It is hardly surprising that polling companies have faced a dramatic decrease in respondents when more than 6,500 people have been arrested or fined for wartime dissent, according to a New York Times analysis. Judges ruled that infractions as minor as wearing blue and yellow clothing — the colors of the Ukrainian flag— or requesting that a DJ play a Ukrainian song were punishable offenses. To help uphold the Kremlin’s narrative, pro-war informers are increasingly snitching on those who oppose the war effort, making even complete strangers a threat to those who question Russia’s invasion.