Kazakhs and Russians in Kazakhstan have different views on the war in Ukraine

April 2022
What are the differences in views on the war in Ukraine between Kazakhs and Russians?

Most Kazakhstan citizens living in big cities, who identify themselves as Russians, believe that currently in Ukraine “special Russian military operation” or “Russian war with NATO” is taking place. On the other hand, respondents, who identify themselves as Kazakhs, mostly think that Ukrainian events are a war between Russia and Ukraine (47%). These are the results of a survey, conducted by Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) and company Gradus Research.

40% of Russians in Kazakhstan think that Russia’s goal in Ukraine is to “protect the Donbass people.” Only 10% of Kazakhs hold this opinion. Instead, three times as many (31%) of them agree that Russia wants to occupy Ukraine and annex it.

“When we see in Kazakhstan 20% of the war supporters, it is important to ‘dig deeper’. And there we see — opinions divided by ethnicity: 42% of Russians and only 11% of Kazakhs support the war — a gap of 4 times. Almost 70% of respondents who identify themselves as Kazakhs do not support Russia’s actions. Probably because they don’t want to be denazified as well,” said Eugenia Blyzniuk, CEO of Gradus Research.

Another Kazakh social group that does not support the war is the young generation. Residents of large cities in Kazakhstan under the age of 35 y.o. much less support the Russian military actions in Ukraine than other age groups, and less trust media messages about Nazism in Ukraine.

“Today, the civilized world is shocked not only by Russia’s brutal military aggression, but by its own inability to anticipate and understand this war. Studies of the post-Soviet territories were limited, often with a tendency to study mystical Russian soul, read Russian history, literature, philosophy. At the same time, very little research studied causal links: how modern institutions work, how public opinion is formed, and how political elites and citizens make decisions. Moreover, such studies have not often been created in Ukraine. We want to change the situation and help the world better understand what is happening not only in Ukraine and Russia, but also in neighboring countries. That is why, together with our partners, we plan to conduct systematic research,” said Timofy Brick, Head of Sociological Research at Kyiv School of Economics.

According to the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2021 the population of Kazakhstan is 19 million people, and the share of Kazakhs in its ethnic composition reached 70%. The share of Kazakhs in the survey reached 68%.

The study was conducted as part of the Research of Democracy and Governance project. Its purpose is to assess the development and formation of democracies, as well as potential threats in the post-Soviet space. The survey base: April 12-14, 2022, 1,186 respondents aged 15-54 living in large cities of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Aktobe, Karaganda, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Shymkent). Survey method is a self-administered questionnaire in a special application Gradus on a smartphone.

Other reports