Tuesday | 11 April, 2023

Who do Georgians blame for Russia’s war in Ukraine?

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, a non-resident Senior Fellow at CRRC-Georgia.The views presented in the article are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of NDI, CRRC-Georgia, or any related entity.

In the face of conflicting narratives about the causes of the war in Ukraine, most Georgians see Russia and Putin as responsible for the conflict, but a substantial minority lay the blame with the West. Since Russia invaded Ukraine slightly over a year ago, a war of words has erupted over who is to blame for the war, with the general consensus being that Russia needlessly invaded Ukraine.

In contrast to this consensus, the Russian government has spread propaganda blaming Ukraine for the war, accusing the country’s Jewish president of being a Nazi and stating that the country needed to be ‘de-Nazified’.

Against this backdrop, and in light of Georgia’s history with Russia, what does the Georgian public think?

Data from CRRC-Georgia and the National Democratic Institute’s regular polling in Georgia suggests that most blame Russia as a whole, but an increasing proportion of the public blames Vladimir Putin specifically for the war. And while the majority of the public report that the war is Russia or Putin’s fault, one in six Georgians report that some Western actor is at fault for the war, while one in twelve blame Ukraine.

The share of Georgians blaming Russia and Putin for the war shifted in the year following the war, with the share blaming Russia declining from 67% in March of 2022, to 54% in December of 2022. There was a simultaneous rise in the share blaming Putin specifically, from 11% in March 2022 to 25% in December of that year.

A smaller but substantial proportion of the public considers the West to be responsible for the war in Ukraine. While relatively small shares blame NATO (2-3%) and the European Union (2-4%), a relatively high percentage blame the US. One in eleven (9%) blamed the United States in March, which rose to and stayed at 15% in July and December respectively.

Similarly, relatively few Georgians blame Ukraine for the war. This share stood at 5% in March 2022, rose to 11% in July 2022, and then moved to between these shares at 8% as of December 2022.

The remainder of the public is either uncertain about who to blame for the war (14-17%) or names some other factor (2%).


It is important to note that respondents could name up to three responses. Therefore, the shares do not necessarily sum to 100% on the chart above. In the first wave of the survey, Vladimir Putin was not specifically asked about, but respondents still named him. In subsequent waves of the survey, Vladimir Putin was added as a response option.

In the most recent wave of the survey, 59% of the public named only Russia or Vladimir Putin as responsible for the war. One in nine (11%) suggested that only Western actors were at fault for the war. A further 7% named at least one Western actor and one Russian actor. The remainder were mostly either uncertain on how to respond (15%) or refused to answer (1%). Other respondents blamed Ukraine as well as some combination of Russian and Western actors.

Who blames who?

The data suggest that men, people belonging to ethnic minorities, and Georgian Dream supporters are more likely to consider the West (including the US, EU, and NATO) at least somewhat responsible for the war, than are women, ethnic Georgians, and those that do not support Georgian Dream.Ethnic Georgians, opposition supporters, those that claim they support no particular party, and people living in urban areas are more likely to blame Russia and/or Putin, compared to ethnic minorities, Georgian Dream supporters, and people in rural areas.

Ethnic Georgians, opposition supporters, those that claim they support no particular party, and people living in urban areas are more likely to blame Russia and/or Putin, compared to ethnic minorities, Georgian Dream supporters, and people in rural areas.

Men and Georgian Dream supporters are more likely to believe that Ukraine is at fault for the war than women and opposition supporters. 


Women, people with vocational education, those outside Tbilisi, poorer people, and people who support Georgian Dream are more likely than men, people with secondary education, those in Tbilisi, wealthier people, and those who support the opposition to be uncertain about the causes of the war.


The data do not suggest that any particular group is more or less likely to name at least one Russian actor and one Western actor for the war.

While Russia’s fault in the war is questioned by relatively few in Georgia, the data do show that some groups are more likely than others to believe that Western actors or Ukraine itself is partially or fully at fault. A substantial share also remains uncertain.

Note: The social and demographic breakdowns shown in the article above were generated from a regression analysis. The analysis had someone’s belief about who was at fault for the war as the dependent variable, including naming Russia/Putin or not, naming any Western institution or not, naming both a Western and a Russian actor or not, and naming Ukraine or not. The independent variables included age group (18-34, 35-54, 55+), sex (male or female), settlement type (Tbilisi, other urban, or rural), education level (secondary, vocational, tertiary), wealth (an index of durable goods owned by the respondents’ household), ethnicity (ethnic minority or ethnic Georgian), employment (working, unemployed, or outside the labor force), and party support (Georgian Dream, United National Movement, other opposition, refuse to answer/don’t know/no party). This article only reports on statistically significant differences between groups.
21.07.2014 | Monday

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29.09.2014 | Monday

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Optimism abounds with regards to the recently signed Georgia-European Union Association Agreement (AA). Most Georgians, however, lack information about the EU and its relation to the country, including the details of the agreement which directly concern the future of Georgia’s economy. The AA covers many areas including national security, migration, human rights and the rule of law but is primarily a free trade agreement with potentially major implications for employment.
20.10.2014 | Monday

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On September 3rd 2013 Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan surprised many observers, including some in his own government, when he announced that Armenia would sign an agreement with Russia to join the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) and spurn a long-negotiated Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union. The move has been dubbed a “U-Turn” as well as a “sudden shift in policy,” although it was predated by landmark Armenian-Russian agreements in 1997 and 2006.
27.11.2015 | Friday

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The June 27, 2014 initialing of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, a wide reaching, largely economic treaty, was marked with celebration in Tbilisi as the fruit of a long running diplomatic effort to tighten ties with the European Union over the course of three Georgian administrations.
16.12.2015 | Wednesday

What We Know About Volunteering in Georgia

[This post originally appeared in]

By Nino Zubashvili

Following the June 13, 2015 flood in Tbilisi, hundreds of volunteers helped to clean the disaster-affected zones of the city, which stirred the hope that volunteerism is on the rise in Georgia. In the past, studies on volunteering in Georgia conducted by non-governmental organizations (such as Helping Hand and the Civil Society Institute) claimed that volunteerism had not taken root in Georgian society, and CRRC-Georgia surveys have consistently shown a mismatch between attitudes and actions regarding volunteering in Georgia.
22.12.2015 | Tuesday

No, Putin is not winning Georgia away from Europe. Here are the facts.

[Editor's Note: This post was originally published on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage on Monday, December 21, 2015. The original post is available here. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia or any of the sponsors of the survey which this article is based on. The data on which this article is based is available here.]

By Dustin Gilbreath

Last Friday, after years of diplomatic wrangling over the course of two administrations, the Republic of Georgia received a report from the EU green lighting visa free travel within the European Union in the near future. Yet, media accounts from earlier this year suggested that Georgia was undergoing a “Russian turn”.
14.03.2012 | Wednesday

Georgia and the EU’s Economic Woes

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Georgia's desire for NATO membership

On September 15th 2011, the former American Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, delivered a speech at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies about NATO’s past development, present capabilities and future challenges. The second part of the speech addressed relations between NATO and Georgia. According to Ambassador Volker, the enlargement of the alliance will not be on the agenda during the next summit in Chicago.
07.12.2011 | Wednesday

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The 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union is upon us, and US-Russian tensions have risen as Russia contemplates terminating the NATO supply route through Russia. International news reports such as The New York Times detail the threat as a “death blow” to the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan and indicate that this could be a blessing in disguise for NATO hopeful Georgia, as well as for Azerbaijan.
22.07.2010 | Thursday

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Following an article on Georgians’ attitudes toward Russia, CRRC Fellows Therese Svensson and Julia Hon have written a new piece for CAD, entitled “Attitudes toward the West in the South Caucasus”. Their article looks at citizens’ views on three areas of relations — political, economic and cultural — between the South Caucasus and the West, in particular NATO, the US and the EU. The data were derived from the South Caucasus–wide 2007 and 2008 Data Initiatives (DI), as well as from the 2009 EU survey that was conducted in Georgia.
16.10.2017 | Monday

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CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
30.10.2017 | Monday

Georgian public increasingly unaware of what the European Union Monitoring Mission does

As much as 81% of the population of Georgia doesn’t know what the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) does, according to the 2017 Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia survey funded by Europe Foundation and implemented by CRRC-Georgia. This lack of knowledge has increased over time, as has the prevalence of incorrect information about the EUMM’s mission. This represents a missed opportunity for the EU’s communications in Georgia.
05.02.2018 | Monday

Who in Georgia wants to study abroad?

Studying abroad can offer students the opportunity to learn new languages, travel, experience different cultures, and form relationships in addition to studying. The Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU Survey) implemented by CRRC-Georgia for Europe Foundation provides information about what share of the population in Georgia would like to go abroad to study, and the demographic characteristics of those who would like to.
18.06.2018 | Monday

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In recent years, Georgia has benefited from EU and US assistance, with around €400 million indicatively allocated for the EU’s projects in Georgia in 2017-2020, and the US government increasing assistance to Georgia in the 2018 Spending Bill. In contrast, Georgia’s relationships with Russia are tense, with diplomatic relations terminated in 2008.
18.11.2019 | Monday

Knowledge of visa-free requirements falls since launch of scheme

Georgian citizens have been able to travel visa free within the Schengen zone for approaching three years, the result of several years of complex dialogue and policy reform. Despite the elapsed time, and a major EU-funded public information campaign, the results of the 2019 Survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia (EU Survey) suggest that public knowledge of requirements for visa free travel have fallen since the scheme launched. Similarly, the same period has seen a large rise in the number of Georgian citizens being denied entry to EU countries, with Eurostat reporting over four thousand such cases in 2018 alone, up over a third since 2017.
09.12.2019 | Monday

Optimism Regarding EU membership is decreasing

Georgia is not a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), but the government has the stated goal of joining the EU when the country is ready for it. According to the Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia survey (EU Survey) CRRC-Georgia conducted in spring 2019 for Europe Foundation, 71% of the population of Georgia would vote for EU membership if a referendum were held tomorrow. Only 10% would vote against it and 7% would not vote at all. While support for joining the EU is clearly high, people are increasingly pessimistic about how long it will take Georgia to join.
23.12.2019 | Monday

Who believes Georgia will regain its territorial integrity?

Territorial integrity is frequently cited by Georgians as one of the most important national issues, but the relative salience of Georgia’s territorial conflicts has declined since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Evidence from the 2013 Caucasus Barometer suggests that there is a high level of uncertainty about when or if the conflicts will be resolved and that there is little public support for any type of settlement involving less than the full restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity (such as high levels of autonomy for Abkhazia or a confederation state).
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Georgia is a small, partly free democracy in a tough neighbourhood, and NATO membership remains an unfulfilled promise. While Russia is widely perceived as the main threat to Georgia’s security, the appropriate strategic or political response to the threat is not obvious. What options does Georgia have when faced with a powerful rival on its border, and what public support is there for these options?
07.02.2023 | Tuesday

How do Georgians feel about the influx of Russians?

Recent CRRC data shows that a large majority of the Georgian public is concerned about the migration of Russians to Georgia.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, at least 1.2 million Russian citizens have 
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