As we’ve already noted it in IISEPS analytical materials, in relation to many aspects of Ukrainian conflict Belarusians mostly share Russian position. The results of March survey are not an exclusion.

Before looking closer at the answers, related to practical aspects of conflict, it should be said that they are determined not only by skillful Russian propaganda, but also by ideological setups of Belarusians. These setups were formed long before the conflict.

Peculiarity of Table 1 is in the fact that over 10 years the ratio of answers remains mostly the same. Naturally, the trinity of Eastern-Slavic people doesn’t mean that Russia is correct in its actions towards Ukraine, but it should be noted that Russia actively defends the thesis about the trinity, while Ukraine rejects it. Belarusians share Russian position in this question, just like they shared it 10 years ago, when there was no armed conflict.

Table 1. Dynamics of answering the question: “Are Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians three different nations or three branches of the same nation?”, %

Variant of answer 08’06 12’09 03’15 03’16
Three branches of the same nation 65.7 66.5 66.6 65.8
Three different nations 28.3 30.6 27.1 28.6
DA/NA 6.0 2.9 6.3 5.6

Respondents’ attitude to the annexation of Crimea had some oscillations over the last two years, but they were only insignificant deviations from the evident position: majority (approximately 60%) approved it, while minority (20-30%) disapproved it (Table 2). At the same time, it should be noted, that Belarusian power didn’t articulate its position on the question. At least, none of these formulations (“occupation” or “restitution”) was ever pronounced by the head of state or top officials.

Table 2. Dynamics of answering the question: “How do you evaluate the annexation of Crimea by Russia?”, %

Variant of answer 06’14 09’14 12’14 03’15 06’15 09’15 12’15 03’16
It’s an imperialistic usurpation and occupation 26.9 27.2 31.6 22.0 21.5 26.5 20.2 27.1
It’s a restitution of Russian lands and reestablishment of historical justice 62.2 59.9 56.8 58.5 62.3 57.4 65.7 57.8
DA/NA 10.9 12.9 11.6 19.5 16.2 16.1 14.1 15.1

Last year Belarus hosted a meeting where peaceful agreement on the Donbass conflict was signed. Even taking into account all shortcomings of this agreement, world powers share the opinion that there is no alternative to Minsk process and observance of Minsk Protocol. This agreement led to a significant decrease of military actions in Donbass, however, political conflict is still not resolved. Ukraine still doesn’t have control over a part of Donbass, including the border of the region with Russia. Political regulation formula is not adopted. Who is to blame for it? Belarusians’ answers are in Table 3.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “Agreement on reconciliation of the conflict in Donbass was signed in February 2015 in Minsk. According to you, who is responsible for the fact that conflict is still not resolved?” (more than one answer is possible)

Variant of answer %
Ukrainian authority 51.3
The West 23.6
Russian authority 20.8
Donetsk/Lugansk People’s Republics’ authorities 17.9
DA 10.5

Over a half of respondents blames Kiev for non-resolving the conflict, Moscow comes only third. Almost the same share of respondents blames separatist leaders, viewing them as a separate subject of political process.

However, Belarusians don’t always share Russian evaluations of the conflict. According to the official position of Moscow, Donbass conflict is a civil confrontation within Ukraine, and Russia has no whatsoever relation to it. Kiev has the opposite position: there is no civil confrontation in the East of Ukraine, there is only Russian aggression.

Three quarters of Belarusians consider that indeed there is civil war in Ukraine (Table 4).

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you agree that there is a civil war in Ukraine?”

Variant of answer %
Yes 75.0
No 15.5
DA/NA 9.5

It is interesting to note that political disagreements between Belarusians don’t fundamentally affect the answers to the question of Table 4. In the version of civil war in Ukraine believe 81.2% of supporters of integration with Russia and 66.5% of Eurointegration advocates; 75.3% of A. Lukashenko’s supporters and 77.6% of his opponents.

However, not all Belarusians share the Kremlin opinion on the role of Russia in the conflict. Then, not even all Russian share it. In the beginning of the current year Levada-center conducted a similar survey in Russia (see“http://www.levada.ru/2016/03/10/rossijsko-ukrainskie-otnosheniya-v-zerkale-obshhestvennogo-mneniya-2/”), while Kiev International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) did the same in Kiev. These surveys included a series of similar questions, including questions related to the war between Russia and Ukraine. It’s interesting to compare results of these surveys with the results of March IISEPS survey (Table 5).

Table 5. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you agree that there is a war between Russia and Ukraine?”, %

Variant of answer IISEPS, Belarus, 03’16 KIIS, Ukraine, 02’16 Levada-Center, Russia, 01’16
Yes 44 63 25
No 46 18 65
DA/NA 10 19 10

As you can see, Belarusians are in the middle between Ukrainians and Russians. Belarusians’ answers are divided into two almost equal parts.

Answers to the question of Table 5, generally speaking, don’t contradict the answers to the question of Table 4. Considerable part of respondents in Belarus suppose that there is both civil war and war between Russia and Ukraine. Civil war in Russia after the revolution of 1917 was accompanied by a foreign military intervention.

In fine it should be said that Belarusian evaluations of dramatic events in Ukraine mostly coincide with Russian. It doesn’t determine state politics of Belarus directly, but it cannot but affect it to a certain extent. These moods are very stable, as you can see. They limit the “corridor of possibilities” where Belarusian politicians act – politicians from both the power and the opposition.