Ukraine’s Popularity Slackens Worldwide on First Anniversary of War With Russia

But views remain strongly favorable in key allied countries — with two crucial exceptions
February 23, 2023 at 2:00 am UTC

The world reacted with palpable sympathy for Ukraine following Russia’s February invasion, but one year on, favorable views of Ukraine have generally declined around the world, according to Morning Consult surveys in 43 countries.

How Views of Ukraine Have Shifted as War Passes One-Year Mark

Net favorability* rating of Ukraine among adults in each country
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*Net favorability is the share of respondents with a favorable view minus the share with an unfavorable view.
Surveys conducted March 1-April 30, 2022, and Jan. 1-Feb. 15, 2023, among a representative sample of adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 to 8 percentage points.

Views of Ukraine evolved as the shock of invasion wore off

  • Adults in 34 countries surveyed held favorable opinions of Ukraine in the two months that followed Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, but views have since declined to various degrees in all but six nations: Norway, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Peru and Turkey. 
  • Crucially, at least a slim majority of people in Poland (72%), the United States (52%), the United Kingdom (64%) and Canada (59%) — all top donors of military aid to Kyiv  — still view Ukraine favorably, according to surveys conducted Jan. 1-Feb. 15. But in France and Germany, the balance has tipped in the other direction: 42% of French adults and 43% of German adults now view Ukraine unfavorably, compared with 34% and 39% who have favorable impressions, respectively. 
  • Outside Ukraine’s key allied countries in Europe and North America, the political salience of the war to ordinary people tends to be lower. An average of 28% of respondents in countries outside Europe, the United States and Canada expressed no opinion of Ukraine, compared with an average of 18% among adults within Kyiv’s geopolitical periphery. 

Ukraine’s political position in Central Europe is delicate

The largest decline in views toward Ukraine among the G-7 countries was in Germany, where net favorability — the share with favorable views minus the share with unfavorable views — fell 28 points between April and mid-February. Berlin has struggled with complex domestic politics surrounding its support for Ukraine, including disagreements within its governing coalition, and has often been the last major power to agree to major steps such as providing main battle tanks or capping the price of natural gas imports from Russia. 

The two E.U. countries with the most unfavorable views of Ukraine — the Netherlands and the Czech Republic — also have suffered some of the worst economic consequences from continental sanctions and price caps on Russian energy exports. The Czech Republic sourced 92% of its natural gas from Russia, where the Netherlands got 85% of its oil in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency.  Austria, which has the third-most negative views among E.U. countries, has historically close ties with Russia, and has come under pressure for perceived tolerance toward Russian espionage

The country that saw favorable views of Ukraine increase the most was Turkey, where net favorability rose 9 points between the first weeks of the war and February 2023. Ankara, which is one of the few governments that enjoys credibility with both Russia and Ukraine, played a key role in brokering a food export deal that has kept millions across the world from hunger and deprivation. 

Curiously, the second-largest positive swing in favorability toward Ukraine was in Indonesia, which has a close historical friendship with Moscow. Views also improved slightly in Singapore and held steady — though quite negative — in Malaysia, making maritime Southeast Asia one of the regions most out of step with global trends. In all three countries, more than 30% of respondents expressed no opinion about Ukraine.

The Morning Consult surveys were conducted March 1-April 30, 2022, and Jan. 1-Feb. 15, 2023, among a representative sample of adults in each country, with unweighted margins of error ranging from plus or minus 1 to 8 percentage points. 

A headshot photograph of Matthew Kendrick
Matthew Kendrick
Data Reporter

Matthew Kendrick previously worked at Morning Consult as a data reporter covering geopolitics and foreign affairs.

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