Almost a quarter of people in Estonian do not consider Russia to be a threat or the culprit behind the war in Ukraine, data from a recently released study shows. Additionally, Estonia has one of the highest levels of satisfaction with democracy in the region.
The GLOBSEC Trends 2022 report polled respondents in nine central and eastern European countries "amid the war in Ukraine".
Questions were asked about geopolitics, democracy and the war in Ukraine to people in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
The main findings of the report show:
- Russia to be the aggressor,
- That people feel part of the West,
- The U.S. is seen as the most important strategic ally,
- There is a lack of awareness about China,
- Disagreement over Ukraine's EU/ NATO integration,
- Satisfaction with democracy.
A condensed summary of Estonia's results is presented below.
Russia and Ukraine
Data from the report shows that 68 percent of people in Estonia view Russia as a threat compared to 24 percent who do not.
The results were similar when respondents were asked which statement they agreed with most: "[It was] Russia that invaded Ukraine" (68 percent agreed), [the] West that provoked Russia (15 percent) or "Ukraine that oppressed Russian-speaking part of the population" (9 percent).
Additionally, 65 percent believe Ukraine is fighting for democracy in Europe. Sixty-nine percent of respondents agree Ukraine is an independent country but 24 percent said it was a "puppet of the west".
Fifty-six percent said Ukraine should be a member of NATO while 33 percent said it should be a neutral country.
Twenty-two percent of respondents viewed Putin positively, falling from 30 percent in 2021. In total, 78 percent of Central and Eastern Europeans perceive the president negatively, the report found.
Forty-seven percent of Estonians believe Russia will not stop in Ukraine and will try and invade other EU countries. This was the second-highest after Poland (60 percent) and above Czechia (45 percent).
Sixty-five percent agreed the strongest possible sanctions should be applied to Russia and 70 percent agreed Estonia should reduce energy dependency on its eastern neighbor. Of the nine countries polled, seven are willing to sanction Russia even if it means they must endure increased economic hardship.
Twenty-four percent of Estonian respondents believe China is a threat to the security of their country. This was the fifth-highest result after Czechia (50 percent) Poland and Lithuania (both 43 percent) and Slovakia (29 percent).
Twenty-one percent said China threatens their identity and values and 8 percent said China could be an "inspiration" for Estonia.
Forty-nine percent of Estonian respondents believe Taiwan is an independent country, the second-highest after Czechia (59 percent) and above Lithuania (46 percent).
In total, looking at all countries, 61 percent of respondents do not perceive China as a security threat to their country
Estonia has the second-highest level of satisfaction with democracy in the region, reaching 66 percent of the population - a 22 percent increase on 2020. Czechia was the most satisfied on 68 percent, Latvia followed Estonia with 58 percent.
Fifty-six percent said they trusted the national government, a fall of 2 percent compared to last year. In 2020, the score was 42 percent. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they trusted President Alar Karis, a 10 percent increase for trust in the president compared to 2021 when Kersti Kaljulaid was head of state.
Karis was the most trusted politician in the region, followed by Lithuania's Gitanas Nauseda (63 percent).
Eighty percent of Estonian respondents believe democracy based on equality, human rights and freedoms, rule of law is good for the country.
Fewer people believed that it does not matter who is in government as things never change. Twenty-nine percent of respondents agreed in 2022 compared to 44 percent in 2020.
This year, 44 percent perceived migrants as a threat to values and identity compared to 56 percent in 2020.
Thirty-one percent of respondents believed in conspiracy theories, the second-lowest in the region. Bulgaria and Slovakia had the highest level at 54 percent.
Fifty-two percent trust the media.
Editor: Helen Wright