Bashkirova & Partners » Blog » Opinion Polls » Do Russians believe Russian army’s involvement in the military Conflict in the East of Ukraine?

Do Russians believe Russian army’s involvement in the military Conflict in the East of Ukraine?

In the first week of December the Ukrainian media reported on about 300 Russian soldiers to be killed during combat assault of the Donetsk airport. The perished servicemen were reported to be part of 16th and 22nd brigades of the Main intelligence directorate of the Russian General Staff and the 106th airborne division. Similar reports appear in the Ukrainian media from time to time and some of the Russian journalists and human rights activists have also used to declare on having the information about the Russian army’s involvement and casualties in the East of Ukraine. Bashkirova and partners independent research agency has conducted a survey to learn whether citizens of this country believe in the Russian militaries’ presence in the East of Ukraine.

The Western and Ukrainian media are reporting on Russian involvement in the ongoing conflict. Sporadic facts are also confirmed by some of the Russian officials. At the same time the Russian Defense representatives are persistent in saying those are solely volunteers who’re fighting in the East of Ukraine, while their opponents are sure of the Russian militaries’ being deployed in the East of the country.  

We may assume the following military categories may be involved in the conflict: civil volunteers or army retired veterans, military men who are currently on paid leave as well as servicemen obeying the orders of their command. 


In exceed of a quarter of respondents did not know to answer, which is quite explainable due to the very contradictory reports, coming from the national and foreign media, so it’s not easy to a listener or a viewer to get a bias free judgment on such a disputable matter.

The most of those who’re definite on their response (39% of total respondents) show their distrust to the reports of the Russian troops fighting in the East of Ukraine.  Moreover 42% of respondents residing in the Southern Federal district, bordering the combat area, do not believe in the Russian army’s presence on the territory of the neighbor state. This non-believer percentage is 16 p.p. up compared to that in the Central federal district. Moscow dwellers, being informed of the current situation exclusively from media reports and online publications appeared more believing, compared to the Rostov region residents, who are eye-witnessing  the refugees, cargoes, military hardware moving over roads of the region.


A third (31%) of total respondents does not believe the conflict coverage, reporting on military men being on a paid leave, and going for that war. The Russian officials and DPR leaders (I.Strelkov and A.Zakharchenko) are known to confirm the involvement of the «paid-leave» soldiers in combat operations, so most of Russians (57% of those definite with their response) suppose this is not impossible. 

About a quarter of the interviewed Russians totally deny the fact of Russians’ involvement in this conflict. We can expect these are most likely mainstream responses (answering the question, respondents support the official viewpoint), and despite the fact that even Ministry of foreign affair in the person of S.Lavrov does not deny Russian civil volunteers’ involvement in the combat activities.

So it’s just natural that a considerable number of Russians have decided to make volunteers to join armed groups, standing up against the Kiev government. There live a lot of people in Russia who have next of kin in the region, many supporters of patriotic movements sympathizing with the Donbas rebels, many veterans who had been to different flash points and got never self-fulfilled in peaceful life. Russian volunteers have participated in similar conflicts in Pridnestrovye, Abkhazia and in former Yugoslavia territories not once.



This study was conducted late November 2014 based on all-Russia random route sample (18+) through face-to-face interviews in place of residence. Altogether 1500 respondents in 8 federal districts, 150 settlements, 200 sample points have been surveyed. The sample error makes up 2,5%.



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