Comparative Politics

B13 - New Perspectives on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Date: Jun 13 | Time: 01:45pm to 03:15pm | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Oxana Shevel (Tufts University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Oxana Shevel (Tufts University)

This panel is co-organized by Maria Popva and Dietlind Stolle (McGill University) The panel will examine where things stand more than two years after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The methodologically and thematically diverse papers will explore both crucial domestic Ukrainian political developments and the variation in support for Ukraine among its allies both across space and over time. Topics covered include: Ukraine's progress towards meeting EU conditions for accession, the relationship between belief in misinformation and language use, European public opinion on support for Ukraine and on variation in trust and threat perception of major powers, and variation in NATO allies' military aid to Ukraine.

Explaining Varying Military Support to Ukraine: Justin Massie, (UQAM)
Abstract: The war in Ukraine has fostered a renewed sense of common purpose and solidarity in the West. It has also exposed deep-seated divisions regarding the provision of military support to Ukraine. While some states commit high levels of military support, hardening their defense and deterrence posture against Russia, others continue to seek out diplomatic compromise and provide token support to Kyiv. This paper examines why and how states conflict in terms of their foreign policy towards Ukraine and Russia using an integrated framework of incentives and constraints. It offers a qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) of 38 democracies to uncover causal paths leading towards the provision of military support to Ukraine. The conditions of high defense spending, economic incentives, and geographic proximity feature prominently in each of the resulting paths. The analysis further reveals the Baltic states and Poland as the most typical military supporters while Canada deviates from our framework. Moreover, it highlights the need for further theory-building to explain why some Balkan states like Croatia and Montenegro as well as Czechia and the United Kingdom provide significant military support to Ukraine.

Domestic and International Faultlines in Support for Ukraine: Dietlind Stolle (McGill University), Maria Popova (McGill University)
Abstract: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused a seemingly high level of unity amongst Europeans in support of Ukraine. However, after 2.5 years of relentless war, what inter- and intra-country fault-lines in public opinion across and within 16 EU countries and the UK regarding support for Ukraine do we see? For example, is support following the left-and right cleavage? How does Ukraine support relate to views on and relations with Russia? How do Europeans see the end of the war and any future relationships with Russia? To answer these questions, we use a multiple wave comparative design from the EUI-YouGov survey conducted at 5 times throughout 2022-2024. Frontrunners of Ukraine support are geographically close to Russia and located in both Western and Eastern Europe (though not exclusively), whereas laggards are some countries of Eastern and Southern Europe with a history of Russian ties during the Cold War. Yet within countries, Ukraine support does not follow a simple pre-determined ideological pattern of the left and right. Most countries with lower overall support for Ukraine display a higher level of polarization between supporters of the incumbent versus the opposition party; our design lets us uncover these changes depending on elections and governmental change. Understanding these fault-lines is important for insights on current and future levels of Ukraine aid across Europe and overall European solidarity in a case of a military attack.

Shapes Belief in Misinformation: A Study Among Multilingual Speakers in Ukraine: Aaron Erlich (McGill University)
Abstract: Scholarship has identified key determinants of people’s belief in misinformation, but our knowledge predominantly comes from English-language misinformation in the United States. However, in the global media environment, multilingual citizens often consume media in more than one language. To this end, we ask how the language in which misinformation is consumed affects belief in misinformation in multilingual media environments. We suggest that language may pass on specific cues that may affect how bilinguals evaluate misinformation in their less preferred language. In a ten-week survey experiment with bilingual adults in Ukraine, we plan to measure if subjects who are asked to evaluate misinformation in their less-preferred language are less likely to believe it.

Friends and Foes: European Public Opinion of Major Powers: Chendi Wang (University of Amsterdam), Alex Moise (EUI)
Abstract: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed Europe into a new phase where both the political elites and the public start to rethink its geopolitical future. Which major powers can be trusted? And which are the potential threats in the long run? European governments might have a more or less unified stance regarding Russian regional territorial incursions and China’s increasing assertiveness on the global stage. It is less clear whether the European public has similar beliefs in which powers to trust and which pose long-term threats. And it is equally unclear what factors influence these opinions. This paper aims to examine European public opinion of major powers, namely the US, Russia and China, in the context of the current Russian invasion. Utilising an original panel survey in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Finland and Portugal, we first describe public opinion on trust in and perceived threat from major powers at the national level. Second, we identify the factors that influence public opinion on these issues at the individual level. Four sets of factors have been emphasised: threat perception of the current Russian invasion, democratic support and authoritarian attitudes, their conceptualisation of what the EU stands for, and ideology.

“Judicial and anticorruption reform and Ukraine’s path to EU accession”: Maria Popova (McGill University)
Abstract: When Ukraine received EU candidate status in June 2022, the EU identified seven conditions that Ukraine needs to meet to open accession negotiations and five out of them focus on judicial and anticorruption reform. While Ukraine has been working on both reforms since 2014 and has put in place an extensive, new institutional architecture, the 2022 full-scale Russian invasion has put conflicting pressures on the process. On the one hand, the existential threat to the state’s survival and the focus on resistance might make fighting corruption and enhancing the rule of law second order issues and thus weaken institutional capacity, elite political will, and society’s focus and reduce the chances of reform implementation. Anticorruption and judicial reform civil society organizations are losing human capital to the war. The inflow of military and financial aid might pour fuel onto the corruption fire and strengthen, rather than weaken incentives to maintain corruption networks. The national security vs. transparency trade-off in an existential war makes it harder to adopt some anticorruption best practices. On the other hand, the existential threat of the war has greatly expanded societal consensus on the desirability of Euroatlantic integration and thus both Ukrainian political elites and society at large have a strong incentive to meet the conditionality criteria. The paper will take stock of the steps taken over the past year and draw lessons about the effectiveness of EU conditionality.