As reports of Russian tanks invading Ukraine and missiles raining down on Kyiv in the early hours of Feb. 24, 2022, hit the airwaves and social media streams, many around the world were horrified.
While Russia had annexed Crimea back in 2014, the provocative escalation still came as a shock.
More of a shock (at least to some)? Ukrainians didn’t easily and quickly fold.
Early on, Ipsos started tracking reaction to what NATO warned last June is a war that could drag on for many years to come.
Here’s a look at polling via our Global Advisor online platform that shows how opinions on a range of issues, including sanctions and refugees, have evolved since that awful morning last February.
- Support for refugees slips
Soon after the invasion began, there was a flood of videos of mostly kids and women fleeing the violence by foot, car, and train. It was hard to watch. People around the world responded with an outpouring of sympathy. While support for taking in Ukrainian refugees remains high, it has slipped eight percentage points to 66%, on average globally, since the early days of the war.
- Support for sanctions also dips
There’s clearly empathy for refugees whose lives have been upended, yet people are also concerned about the impact on their cost of living. While the price of many everyday purchases, from gas to groceries, are up in the wake of the war, support for sanctions in these inflationary times is down by three percentage points since March/April 2022.
- Consumer confidence takes a hit
After two years of economic chaos caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic, it looked like things were going to turn a corner as 2022 dawned — then Russia invaded Ukraine. Confidence plunged in the months following the invasion, particularly in nearby European countries. By Jan. 2023 consumer confidence was ticking back up – though still well below Jan. 2022 pre-war levels.
- Fear about nuclear weapons use rises
Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war led to an increased fear of a nuclear attack year over year. While the threat of a nuclear attack in the past 12 months has mainly been implied, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was somewhat more direct last month saying: “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war.” The implication of these types of comments since last February seems to have unnerved people as a nuclear/biological/chemical attack is now seen as the top threat facing the world (up 10 percentage points in 2022 vs. 2021).
- WWIII fears jump
Talk of a possible World War III now pops up somewhat regularly on the tongues of politicians, pundits, and conspiracy theorists. People are on edge. The bold invasion of Ukraine has clearly shaken citizens in many countries as almost 3 in 4 (73%), on average globally, agreed in the fall of 2022 there could be a conflict akin to World Wars I and II by 2047 – with fear of a world conflict jumping 10 percentage points or more in 13 countries when compared to fall 2021.