Security Radar 2023 examines public attitudes to Russia’s war against Ukraine in four key EU countries: Germany, France, Latvia and Poland. The opinion of citizens in these countries is crucial for building European strategic autonomy.
The report compares representative public opinion data from autumn 2021, several months before Russia’s invasion, with autumn 2022, ten months into the war. It analyses the evolution of views on military spending, threats emanating from Russia and ways to support Ukraine, ranging from sending weapons to extending membership of the EU and NATO and even sending troops. The analysis also compares opinions on the duration of the war, actors responsible for escalation, likely outcomes and ways to end the war.
‘Despite the overwhelming rhetorical solidarity with Ukraine there are national differences in strategic objectives. These line up with public perceptions and hint, for example, at how far Germany is willing to go in supporting Ukraine, or how far Berlin is willing to compromise on ending the war compared with Warsaw.’
We can see the‘Zeitenwende’ in the minds of Europeans: a clear watershed in German public opinion, as well as a comparable shift in France, especially regarding disillusionment with military interventions.
We can also observe a convergence of threat perceptions and willingness to support Ukraine among the two Eastern and two Western EU members.
Most importantly, respondents from all countries clearly reject the idea of sending their own troops to Ukraine, indicating a wish to avoid being drawn into the war.
However, the results also reveal some divergent views on several crucial issues that may put the unity of the EU in jeopardy.