Mass Public Preferences on Arms Exports and Military Support for Ukraine. Survey Experimental Evidence from five NATO Countries

26.09.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Lukas Rudolph
Lecturer affiliation: 
Universität Konstanz


Current research indicates that citizens in Western democracies are attentive to the costs and benefits of foreign policy in general, and war in particular, with a preference for keeping the human costs of war in proportion. At the same time, recent literature proposes that support for both war and peace can be principled, only considering engagement per se, irrespective of its consequences. We study these types of preference formation for the context of wars on foreign soil, in Ukraine. Western military and civilian assistance is pivotal for Ukraine to defend both its sovereignty and political integrity against the Russian aggression. This support comes at large economic costs, and implies both death and destruction in Ukraine, and strategic risks of war escalation. How does the mass public among top-5 supporters (US, UK, Germany, France, and Italy) trade off these costs and benefits? Drawing on conjoint and vignette survey experiments (N=10,000) we provide comparative evidence that Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty looms largest in citizens' calculus but is not unconditional: strategic risks and the human, but not economic costs of war are relevant constraints. At the same time, citizens favor the delivery of heavy over light armament to Ukraine, perceiving relevant differences in the consequences of delivery. Theoretically, our results inform recent research on foreign policy preferences, and speak to current policy debates on calls for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.


Lukas Rudolph (University of Konstanz), Fabian Haggerty (LMU Munich), Paul Thurner (LMU Munich)