The Russian Military Operation in Ukraine

Since the beginning of Russia's military actions in Ukraine, its perception by Russian citizens has been one of the central issues discussed by scholars and the public alike.
While quantitative surveys attempt to describe the structure and the dynamic of Russians' support for the military action, they do not show how citizens perceive the conflict, what exactly they "approve" or "disapprove" of, to whom they attribute responsibility for the events, and how they see their own role in the ongoing conflict. Qualitative studies are needed to understand how Russian society perceives the war.

The Public Sociology Laboratory and a group of volunteers is conducting such a study. This project does not seek to objectively represent the proportions of different opinions on the war in Ukraine. Our goal is to capture and qualitatively describe the range of existing ways Russia's military action in Ukraine is perceived and to understand the logic behind the evolution of these perceptions. We rely on in-depth sociological interviews collected via face-to-face or online conversations. Respondents are recruited through the researchers' social networks, and snowball sampling is used. We began the first wave of data collection on February 27, 2022 and completed it by the end of June 2022. In October 2022, we started the second wave of data collection and finished it in December 2022. Currently, our dataset includes 300 anonymous sociological interviews averaging 40-50 minutes. We follow all standard ethical guidelines for social science research. All respondents are informed about the purpose of the study and provide informed consent. All interviews are anonymized and transcribed. The data is stored in secure encrypted cloud storage. Only researchers have access to this database.
As a group of researchers committed to the values of public discussion, we consider informing the public as one of the crucial goals of our project. While the project is ongoing, we publish short articles and pieces in the media describing the progress of the project and our preliminary results. The links to these texts can be found below on this page. We publish these texts in different media outlets including those which might not share our ideological views. Our team includes scholars with different political views and convictions. This diversity helps us to strive toward an important goal: maintaining a dialogue about the current events. If a society cannot talk about what is happening, can it really affect what is happening? We address different audiences—both in Russia and abroad. We do not publish the results of our project in any media outlets which censor our data and conclusions. All published materials based on this project are the product of our own analysis and based on empirical data.

This project is not funded or commissioned by any external body or organization. It is united by people who believe that knowledge can help us change the world or at least help us to understand it better during such dramatic moments

Denisenko, A., & Kropivnitskyi, A. (June 6, 2023). 'With each day, you realise that you're not to blame for anything'. Novaya Gazeta Europe.

Denisenko, A. (May 23, 2023). The Chinese dream for Russian people.

Erpyleva, S., & Kappinen, S. (May 3, 2023). Accepting the Inevitable.

The Russian Reader (March 30, 2023). What Goes On in Your Mind?

Erpyleva, S., & Zhuravlev, O. (2023). Nicht Befürworter:innen und nicht Gegner:innen: Wie verändert sich bei der Bevölkerung in Russland mit der Zeit die Wahrnehmung des Krieges in der Ukraine?
Russland-Analysen 434.

Erpyleva, S. (March 14, 2023). 'Once we've started, we can't stop': how Russians' attitudes to the war in Ukraine are changing. Re: Russia.

Kropivnitskyi, A., & Denisenko, A. (December 14, 2022). 'For me it's easier that way': Why facts won't beat propaganda. POSLE.

Savelyeva, N, (September 14, 2022). New research suggests 'turmoil' in Russian society over Ukraine war. OpenDemocracy.

Erpyleva, S. (April 16, 2022). Why do Russians support the war against Ukraine?

Savelyeva, N. (April 14, 2022). Putin's people - or are they? The Center for European Policy Analysis.

Savelyeva, N. (March 11, 2022). What do Russians think about Putin's war? The Center for European Policy Analysis.

Alyukov, M. ( March 9, 2022). In Russia, opinion polls are a political weapon. OpenDemocracy.

Savelyeva, N. (February 25, 2022). A short, victorious war (or so he hopes). The Center for European Policy Analysis.

Alyukov, M. (25 February, 2022). How to sell a war to those who do not want it. King's College London.

Savelyeva, N. (February 21, 2022). Ukraine's Donbas is already another country. The Center for European Policy Analysis.
  • Maxim Alyukov
  • Svetlana Erpyleva
  • Oleg Zhuravlev
  • Natalia Savelyeva
  • Olga Pinchuk
The interviews are collected by the Public Sociology Laboratory and the following group of volunteers:

Alexander Markov (independent scholar)
Anna Shabanova (student, RSUH)
Alya Denisenko (independent scholar)
Darya Zykova (student, UTMN)
Anatoly Kropyvnytskyi (independent scholar)
Irina Kozlova (research fellow, RANEPA & "Monitoring Contemporary Folklore" group)
Irina Antoshuk (PhD researcher, University of Amsterdam)
Kira Evseeva (independent scholar, graduate of RSUH)
Nadezhda Kokoyeva (student, MSSES)
Serafima Upinova (independent scholar)
Igor Chervinsky (student, EHESS Paris)
Made on