ISSN 2330-717X

Many Russians View War In Ukraine As Defensive ‘Holy Struggle’ Of ‘Us Against The World’ – OpEd


Mariya Matskevich of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that “a large part of the Russian population” views the war in Ukraine as “holy” and “a war of Russia with the entire rest of the world.” And she adds, this is a position many Russians find far more congenial than any cooperation with the outside world.


Polls consistently and, the sociologist says, generally accurately, this pattern as well as the widespread belief that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is defending itself against Western attack. Because of this, Russian support for Putin, his government and even United Russia has risen since the start of hostilities (

The main dividing line between those who support the war and those who don’t involve television viewing. Those who watch four hours or more a day back the war; but they do so, Matskevich says, less because of what television tells them than because they self-select themselves to view it rather than the internet.

The sociologist adds that she does not think that the reduction in the standard of living will affect those who support Putin. The reason is simple: The Russians who are going to suffer the most from Western sanctions are those who didn’t support the Kremlin leader to begin with. They may become angrier but not more numerous.

Today Matskevich argues, many Russians feel that their country is surrounded by hostile foreign powers; and they are glad that Putin has cleared the air by acting as he has. “Now everything has become understandable: we are alone against everyone else.” Perhaps surprisingly, that is a stance many Russians like.


Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

2 thoughts on “Many Russians View War In Ukraine As Defensive ‘Holy Struggle’ Of ‘Us Against The World’ – OpEd

  • March 13, 2022 at 4:59 am

    Russia is surrounded by smaller countries part of the Soviet empire or and of the WARSAW pact.Wonder if they have the guts to be hostile to a powerful nation like Russia unless backed by alliances like the NATO and the US through their aids and instigation to remain hostile to Russia. This step had to be taken and Putin acted. However,the avoidable invasion has had excessive collateral destruction on their sibling!

  • March 13, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    You are right Paul. The Russians see the decline in morality in many western countries as some thing to avoid. They do not want to be like the West. What for?


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