Public оpinion in N. Macedonia regarding the war in Ukraine is deeply divided

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This article was first published by (North Macedonia), within the framework of Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Project.

The citizens of North Macedonia regarding the war in Ukraine have significantly divided opinions about at least two issues – who is to blame for the war and which side of the military conflict they support. The latest IRI survey of the Western Balkan countries indicated this. With such percentages, it is obvious that the current state policy, ever since the Russian aggression in Ukraine in February 2022, can become subject to more significant public pressure to change the solid position in line with Ukraine and the Western allies


Author: Teofil Blazevski 

The citizens of North Macedonia have dramatically divided opinions about at least two issues regarding the war in Ukraine – who is to blame for the war and should the country be helping the authorities in Kyiv. This was indicated by the last comprehensive survey of the International Republican Institute – IRI applied in the six Western Balkan countries, including Macedonia. The survey was performed before the elections, between the beginning of February and March 2024. In North Macedonia, 1220 adult respondents took part in the survey. 

All parties are to blame for the war 

On the question ”Who is most responsible for the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine”, 17 percent of the citizens responded by saying that the responsibility lies with Russia, as opposed to the 27 percent who deem that the West is most responsible. Ukraine is blamed by only 6 percent of the respondents, while 38 percent of them either or most of the answers blamed all parties involved. This indicates that the public in the country shows significant deviation from the current political position that, at least publicly, is shared by the winners of the elections – that Russia performed aggression in Ukraine and that the country should be condemned and sanctioned for that specific action. 

Infographic about who is to blame for the war

Don’t know who will win – more than 50 percent of the respondents 

On the question ”Who will win the military conflict”36 percent of the Macedonian citizens believe that Russia will be the victor, and Ukraine is given a chance by only 13 percent of the citizens. In comparison, a total of 51 percent of the respondents either did not know or refused to answer. That put the public opinion of the country closer to answers received from Serbia and Montenegro, where a total of 68 percent and 44 percent respectively are convinced of the final victory of Russia. In Kosovo and Albania, on the other hand, Ukraine is seen as the victor with 47 percent and 50 percent of the respondents respectively. 

Infographic about the victor

54 percent do not support either side 

On the question ”In the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which side do you support”, most of the respondents, up to 54 percent responded that they do not support neither Russia nor Ukraine. For those supporting either of the sides, the score is almost balanced, 19 percent supported Russia, while 18 percent Ukraine. Only 8 percent did not know or refused to answer. With this answer, North Macedonia is somewhere in the middle of the table among the other five Western Balkan countries, with the largest percentage of respondents supporting Russia coming from Serbia and Montenegro, while the largest percentage of respondents from Kosovo and Albania supporting Ukraine. 

Infographic about country support

The initial conclusion is that the public in North Macedonia is deeply divided concerning several issues surrounding the conflict in Ukraine. For example, regarding the party to blame for the conflict, most of the respondents believe that all parties are to blame. Regarding the victor of the military conflict, most of the respondents said that they did not know, but more than one-third deemed that Russia will be the victor. In addition, it is not irrelevant that more than half of the respondents do not support either side of the conflict, which means that they want to be neutral and that is how they see the desired position of the country. 

The only table indicating greater support for Ukraine might be the one answering the question ”Do you think that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are justifiable or not”, whereby 54 percent responded by saying that they were unjustifiable to a certain extent or entirely, although the number of 33 percent who trust that Russia’s actions were entirely or partially justifiable is not small at all (graph on page 82). 

These findings indicate that stronger public pressure on the authorities of the state is possible leading to a change in policy of complete support of Ukraine and the position of the USA and the EU for complete condemnation and sanctions for Russia.