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Analyzing War Fatigue in Ukraine

Many Ukrainians, both at the front and rear, have gradually realized there will be no quick victory. The war may drag on indefinitely and require even more sacrifices from the state and society.

Many different recent political events (public criticism of the inappropriateness of certain budget expenditures that do not meet the conditions and requirements of war; emotional information and diplomatic skirmishes about Ukrainians allegedly not being grateful enough for foreign support; rumors about the possibility of elections during the war; a heated discussion on social media about the post that “Ukrainians deserve this war”; etc.) have a common denominator – an emotional and political reaction to the situation of the war’s protraction, awareness of uncertainty, and the need to change the course of events.

Conventionally, this reaction and the related political and psychological state can be characterized as war fatigue syndrome. It manifests in various forms in our country and our international partners, both in political elites and ordinary citizens. It also manifests itself in Russia. But for us, the internal Ukrainian situation is more critical now.

Many Ukrainians, both at the front and in the rear, are gradually getting the feeling that there will be no quick victory. The war against the Russian invasion may drag on indefinitely and require even more sacrifices from the state and society.

Against this backdrop, combatting our pre-war socio-political ills – corruption, the inefficiency of state and municipal institutions, bureaucratic arbitrariness, and the lifestyle of certain officials inadequate to war conditions – is a source of sharp indignation for most Ukrainians.

The same traditional Ukrainian problems have also begun to resurface as the war dragged on. Not only ordinary citizens, but also dishonest officials have started to adapt to the conditions of a protracted war. Moreover, as historical and international experience shows, any war creates many opportunities for those who want to profit from it.

The war fatigue syndrome and the reaction to the prolongation of the war manifest themselves in different ways among our people. Most Ukrainians are simply adjusting to this situation, trying to adapt to the “new normal,” which they hope is “temporary.”

Some people are trying to restore a quasi-peaceful life, which is only disturbed by air raids. Some people are closing themselves off from the war and everything related to it. They will be satisfied with the end of the war in any form.

An ambivalent reaction is common – outwardly patriotic feelings, but at the same time, unwillingness to see someone close to them go to the front. The longer the war drags on, the more this latter group will support its end in a relatively acceptable form, including simply ending hostilities.

We also have those who had and still have, or partially retain, pro-Russian views. Before the full-scale invasion, they were about 10% (of the total). Many of these people have changed their attitude toward Russia negatively.

However, their views remained contradictory. I think that among these people, there are many supporters of peace at any cost – “as long as there is no war.” There were also supporters of Putin. They were waiting for the arrival of the Russian army or a change of government in Ukraine. It didn’t happen.

They have closed themselves off for obvious reasons and do not demonstrate their views. Outwardly, they are also pacifists, but they blame Ukraine, not Russia, for the outbreak of the war. This is a clear minority, perhaps only a few percent. But they are there.

The former Opposition Platform – For Life Party’s supporters have significantly decreased, but they no longer hesitate to remind us of their sympathies. Here is a specific example. According to polls conducted by the Razumkov Center, before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion (in July-August 2021), 17.6% of respondents trusted Yuriy Boyko.

In February-March 2023, only 6% trusted the former leader of the OPFL. A survey conducted in the first half of July 2023 showed that 9.8% of respondents now trust Yuriy Boyko. Another 7.6% of respondents find it difficult to answer the question about trust or distrust in Boyko.

Among these people may be hidden sympathizers of the former OPFL, or those who are hesitant in their attitude towards Boyko, but without any apparent negative attitude towards him.

I should note that trust ratings are not electoral ratings. The percentage of those ready to vote for Boyko is much lower. Nevertheless, indirect signs show that supporters of the former OPFL are gradually recovering. This is a separate trend, but in the broader political context, it is also a domestic political reaction to the prolongation of the war.

The New Voice of Ukraine

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