The Russian Invasion: A Prequel

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 CadetsROTC CadetsCivilians
Agree Russia is Expansionist65%65%41%
Disagree Russia is Expansionist16%13%18%
No Opinion19%22%42%
Perceptions of Russia being an Expansionist Power by Military Affiliation, 2012-2016

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s