The Russian invasion of Ukraine was not a surprise given the recent build-up of troops around that country. Analysts and political leaders have been concerned that this might happen a long-time ago. Given the gravity of the situation, we went back to data collected before any of the recent build up of troops. We asked members of our sample how much they agreed that ‘Russia is expansionist’ with responses ranging from Agree strongly to Disagree strongly, on a four-point scale. There was also a ‘No opinion’ option.
These data only include responses from our survey conducted between 2012 and 2016. Three trends are discernable: First, most of the 3,055 young adults (60%) asked the question agreed that Russia is expansionist. Second, our cadets were much more likely to agree with this statement; 65% said that they believe it to be true, compared to only 41% of civilians. Third, belief that Russia is expansionist has increased between these dates (data not shown).
|Academy Cadets||ROTC Cadets||Civilians|
|Agree Russia is Expansionist||65%||65%||41%|
|Disagree Russia is Expansionist||16%||13%||18%|
It is interesting to note that more than 40% of civilians in our sample had no opinion on the matter. Perhaps the cadets are more likely to follow news related to defense matters relative to their civilian peers. Whatever the cause, it is clear that the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 was no surprise to the people in our study.