Peace versus Justice: The coming European split over the war in Ukraine

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Series Details ECFR/452, Number 452
Publication Date June 2022
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  • In the first 100 days of Russia’s war on Ukraine, European public opinion helped to solidify Europe’s political response. But a new poll reveals that diverging public preferences could weaken this unity.
  • ECFR’s research shows that, while Europeans feel great solidarity with Ukraine and support sanctions against Russia, they are split about the long-term goals. They divide between a “Peace” camp (35 per cent of people) that wants the war to end as soon as possible, and a “Justice” camp that believes the more pressing goal is to punish Russia (25 per cent of people).
  • In all countries, apart from Poland, the “Peace” camp is larger than the “Justice” camp. European citizens worry about the cost of economic sanctions and the threat of nuclear escalation. Unless something dramatically changes, they will oppose a long and protracted war. Only in Poland, Germany, Sweden, and Finland is there substantial public support for boosting military spending.
  • Governments will need to find a new language to bridge the gap between these emerging camps, in order to strengthen European unity and avoid polarisation between and within countries. The key will be to present arms deliveries and sanctions as part of a defensive war.
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