More than two months have passed since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, during which it has become clear that the conflict should be seen in a broader context than that of Ukraine and Russia. The confrontation is, in fact, between Western powers (United States, NATO, European Union) and Russia, of which Ukraine has become a buffer zone. The direct consequence of this is that in recent weeks, the actors directly or indirectly involved in the war have escalated the conflict by their measures (imposing economic sanctions and sending arms shipment on the part of the “Western bloc” and increasingly intense military operations on the part of Russia) rather than aimed at promoting peace.
The vast majority of Hungarians do not support the imposition of further sanctions on Russia
Eighty-nine percent of respondents believe that economic sanctions against Russia are detrimental to both the European Union and the European economy, and 71 percent oppose extending these sanctions to energy sources such as natural gas and oil, according the survey conducted by Századvég in May. The survey mapped the population’s attitudes to the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Ukraine has become the buffer zone of great powers
In light of the research data, it can be stated that the Hungarians also recognised these processes, so
the population has a negative perception of the leading politicians involved in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which has been steadily deteriorating since the outbreak of the war.
The survey shows that the proportion of those who express an unfavourable opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin has risen from 68 percent in February 2022 to 72 percent, while the proportion of those who have a negative perception of US President Joe Biden has risen 4 percentage points (from 58 to 62 percent). Interestingly,
the perception of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has significantly deteriorated recently: in February 2022, 52 percent of those surveyed had a negative opinion about the President of Ukraine, while this proportion was 65 percent in May.
The circumstance behind this phenomenon is presumably due to the fact that despite Hungary’s significant humanitarian assistance, Zelensky and members of his government have repeatedly criticised Hungary, partly because the Hungarian government buys oild and natural gas from Russia and does not send weapons to Ukraine. Regarding the latter, it is important to highlight that
the Hungarian public is clearly averse to sending weapons to Ukraine. According to the survey, 79 percent of respondents oppose this suggestion.
Both Russia and Ukraine are responsible for the escalation of the armed conflict
Regarding the escalation of the Russian-Ukrianian conflict, 28 percent of Hungarians say that Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, is more responsible for the escalation of the confrontation, while 21 percent believe that it is rather Ukraine, led by Zelensky.
Half of those surveyed (50 percent) blame both Russia and Ukraine for the situation.
It should be emphasised that in March 2022, Russia was still blamed for the escalation of the conflict by 32 percent of respondents and Ukraine by only 13 percent, that is, by May, the camp of those who believe that Ukraine, led by Zelensky, bears more responsibility for the war situation, increased by 8 percentage points. Regarding future prospects, it can be stated that
two-thirds of Hungarians (66 percent) expect the Russian-Ukrainian war to drag on,
while 30 percent see the conflict coming to an end in the near future.
Sanctions against Russia are holding back the European economy as well
One of the most important topics in the European public discourse since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict has been the issue of sanctions against Russia. The European Union is currently preparing its sixth package of sanctions, which would affect Russian oil imports. The survey reveals that
40 percent of those surveyed consider the economic sanctions imposed on Russia so far to be sufficient, while 31 percent find the measures introduced to date excessive.
The proportion of those who think the sanctions imposed on Russia so far is not enough is 24 percent and would support the extension of the restrictions to energy sources (natural gas, oil) as well. In this respect, it is important to emphasise that
89 percent of Hungarians believe that the sanctions imposed on Russia are also detrimental to the European Union and the European economy,
while 10 percent say that the punitive measures in question do not significantly affect the economic situation in the European Union.
CATI method, n=1000, among the Hungarian adult population, data collection: May 2022