As it was repeatedly noted in IISEPS works, Belarusian society in its majority supported Russian position both on the annexation of Crimea and on the armed protests in Donbass. September survey showed that answers of Belarusians on according questions almost haven’t changed over the quarter. Nevertheless, that doesn’t testify that Belarusians are ready to personally support the cause in Ukraine they consider right. At the same time events in Ukraine significantly influenced geopolitical priorities of Belarusians. Although – all in due time.
Let’s begin with the evaluations of events in Ukraine in March-September 2014 (Tables 1-5).






Up until now the reaction seems similar to the reaction of Russian society: “Crimeaisours”, “junta” in Kiev, anti-terrorist operation regarded a “counterinsurgency operation”, and, accordingly, the West is wrong in its confrontation with Russia. However, if we have a look at other questions, the picture appears to be much more complex (Table 6).


As a comparison, in a July survey of Levada-center 82% of Russian respondents were blaming Ukrainian power ministries for the crash of the airliner, 6% of respondents were blaming Russian militaries and 3% – Donbass home guards. In Belarus shares of adherents of Russian and Ukrainian versions of the catastrophe turned out to be almost equal, in Russia the share of former exceeded the share of latter tenfold! Feel the difference…
Belarusian respondents are quite restrained in the relation to advisability of conflict escalation as well. Let us remind you: for 52% of respondents Ukrainian powers are “fascists” and for 60% of respondents Ukraine’s use of armed forces for the restoration of control over Donbass is “a crime against their own people”. Shouldn’t the majority consider natural that Russia must stop this “fascist crime” by force? It should. But it isn’t (Table 7).


Once again as a comparison: in a March survey of Levada-center 74% of Russian respondents expressed themselves in favor of bringing Russian troops to Ukraine. In August 41% of respondents were for it and 43% – against it. In comparison with March warlike character in Russia dropped significantly, although the difference with Belarusian society is still quite notable: in August in Russia the numbers of adherents and opponents of a full-scale war (although Russians were going to die in this war also) was almost equal, in Belarus the number of former is almost four-fold lower than the number of the latter.
And when there is a question about a direct or indirect participation of Belarus and Belarusians in the war in Ukraine, the overwhelming majority does not want this participation under any pretext (Table 8).


Here the number of permission advocates is almost the same as the number of supporters of the direct participation of Russian troops in the Ukrainian conflict. However the number of opponents is considerably higher: almost each third of four respondents. Belarusians are even more unanimous in their negative attitude towards the participation of their fellow countrymen in the armed conflict in Donbass – on any of the sides (Table 9).


Data of Tables 2-4 and Tables 6-9 seem to be contradictory and arouse some suspicions about respondents’ honesty. If majority of Belarusians consider the causes of Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic right, then why are they so reluctant to believe in villains with Ukrainian epaulets, which made the airplane crash? Why don’t they dream about Russian army coming and saving the citizens of Donbass from “chasteners”? Why do they turn out the idea of Belarus participating in this right cause?
The case is in the mismatch between the ideological and practical levels of thinking. And in this case when we speak of the ideological level we don’t necessarily mean “false consciousness”. If such mismatch is good or bad depends on the ideological position. For the supporters of Ukraine’s integrity it is good. For the supporters of Novorossia’s independence from Ukraine it is bad. We only register the fact of the mismatch, the fact, that ideological setup doesn’t crowd out pragmatic and existential motives.
Belarusians’ evaluations of the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass are determined by their sympathy to Russia. But this sympathy doesn’t mean that Belarusians think that Russia is always right about everything, including all the aspects of the conflict in the East of Ukraine. The setup doesn’t invade pragmatics. So comes the thought that the plane crashed on the territory controlled by separatists, that before it were them who crashed planes and so on. In other words, the mechanism of certitude that Russia didn’t do it because it couldn’t do it, is not working.
Answers to the questions of Tables 7-9 show that ideological setup doesn’t invade the level of existential values as well. Respondents, even if they support Donbass insurgents, may reason like this: “So Russia brings their troops there, it’s gonna be a big war. What if America gets in? A world war? And we’re so close. Do we need that? And what if they drag us into it? God forbid! No way. Our people should stay away from there. We better care about our land”.
Thus formally illogical answers turn out to be emotionally, value-consciously logical. Existential values of own and national survival turn out to be stronger than ideological setups.
Another bright example of a similar mismatch may be seen in evaluations of the negotiations between the conflicting sides in Minsk, organized as an OSCE contact group meeting (Table 10).


Attitude to Russian policy in Ukraine significantly influenced Belarusians’ attitude to the European Union and Russia itself and their geopolitical choice. This choice can hardly be called completely ideological, as a lot of Euro-Belarusians are attracted to Europe not so much because of its values, but because of material abundance, which often determines the choice in favor of the EU. In turn, a considerable part of Belarusians prefer integration with Russia not because of spiritual closeness, but counting on a flow of cheap energy carriers and a stable market. Still the ideological component is present in the choice between the EU and the RF, and it fulfils probably even a bigger role than pragmatics.
The attraction of European well-being didn’t become weaker over the time of Ukrainian crisis, the flow of cheap Russian gas in Belarus didn’t become shallow. And still… See Tables 11-12.



The number of those whose attitude to Russia worsened turned out to be almost equal (a little bigger) to the number of those whose attitude to Russia became even better after the dramatic events in Ukraine. But the number of respondents whose attitude to the EU became worse turned out to be more than 8 times (!) bigger than the number of those whose attitude became better.
However, as it was mentioned above, this change only partially influenced Belarusians’ attitude to the prospect of integration with the East and the West. However, this effect cannot be unnoticed (Tables 13-15).




In comparison with the beginning of the year the share of “Euro-Belarusians” dropped by 10 percentage points, at the same time the share of opponents of Belarus integrating the EU jumped by 15 points. Second quarter running the latter share exceeds 50%, which wasn’t observed over the last 5 years.
The changes over the last 9 months in the answers to the “either…or”-question are quite revealing as well: ratio of evaluations changes to the opposite one – in December 2013 relative majority was for the EU, in September 2014 – for the RF. However, it should be noted, that the inclination to integration with Russia slightly decreased comparatively to March.
If we should talk about foreign policy consequences of Belarusians’ reaction to the policy of Russia in Ukraine, it should be noted, that these consequences were mostly ideological. Belarusians don’t really express a desire for Russians to begin a full-scale war in Ukraine. Even more so they don’t want their country and its citizens to participate in bloodshed in Donbass. Nevertheless, the fact that majority of Belarusians support Russian policy in Ukraine influenced changes in geopolitical preferences by implication: in comparison with the end of the previous year the number of supporters of integration with the EU dropped, the number of supporters of integration with the RF jumped.