Since the start of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the European Union has pursued an intensive sanctions policy, adopting a total of 9 sanctions packages until the end of 2022 in the hope of curbing Russia’s military ambitions. It is easy to see that one of the main measures of the effectiveness of punitive measures is whether they cause more damage to Russia than to the European community. According to a survey conducted by Project Europe 2022 in the second half of 2022, only 1 in 10 EU citizens (10%) believe that the sanctions imposed have primarily harmed Russia, while 34% see the European Union as the primary victim of the punitive measures. The share of those who think that the sanctions have harmed both Russia and the EU economy as a whole is 49%.

As regards the public’s perception of individual punitive measures, it is important to highlight that there is divided support for restrictive measures that have a significant impact on the daily lives of Europeans, while there is high support for less essential sanctions that play a minor role in the daily lives of Europeans.

One of the most crucial issues is the purchase of arms for Ukraine, as this brings the European Union one step closer to being involved in the war. For historical and geopolitical reasons, the European Union and its member states’ buying arms for Ukraine is supported mainly by the citizens of the Nordic countries, the Baltic States and Poland, while public opinion in some Central and Western European countries (including Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria) is against it. A similar picture can be seen in the context of European funding for the reconstruction of Ukraine, with more than half of the citizens of the Nordic countries, the Baltic States, Poland and Romania, among others, agreeing with the proposal, while Germans, Czechs, Hungarians and Bulgarians are against it.

For many of these measures, it can be observed that their support depends on the geographical, economic and infrastructural conditions in the different European countries. Accordingly, the ban on Russian tourists from Europe is not supported by public opinion in countries where tourism is considered a major industry (Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Bulgaria), and the ban on Russian oil and gas imports is opposed by citizens in some EU countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic) for historical and infrastructural reasons. Similarly, the ban on imports of Russian fuel for nuclear power plants does not meet public expectations in the countries operating Russian-type nuclear power plants (Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic).

However, the sanctions on Russian billionaires, oligarchs and their assets are supported by a majority of respondents in all EU Member States, which can be explained by the anti-elitist attitude of European citizens.