Research shows public response to invasion

New research conducted by the SKDS pollster on behalf of the Latvian Ministry of Defense gives an interesting insight into Latvians' attitudes to defense and security.

The research was carried out in November 2016 and released January 20. It is comprehensive, running to nearly 200 pages, and asks members of the public for their views on everything from their attitude to the armed forces to their likely actions in the case of a Russian invasion.

1019 people aged between 17 and 74 took part in the sample, of which 86.5% were Latvian citizens.

Asked "If external forces caused an armed conflict in Latvia and you had the chance to stay or leave Latvia, what would you do?" the responses were:

  • 54% Stay
  • 31% Leave
  • 15% Difficult to say 

Asked "If Russia attacked Latvia, what do you think you would do?" the responses were:

  • 8% Join the National Guard
  • 7% Attempt other form of armed resistance
  • 24% Try to help in other ways
  • 13% Leave the country
  • 6% Do something else
  • 25% Carry on as normal
  • 16% Difficult to say

Thus around 40% of people believe they would offer some form of resistance to an attacker.

However, asked whether or not they supported the statement: "If it became necessary I am ready to take up arms to defend Latvia," a slightly different answer was obtained.

  • 33% supported the statement
  • 47% did not support the statement
  • 19% didn't know either way

Asked the same question a year earlier, 41% agreed and 44% disagreed with 16% not knowing.

The report asks some serious questions and merits serious analysis. Asked if determined military resistance should be offered against an attack "by all possible means" even if it would mean large loss of life, the responses were:

  • 55% Yes
  • 26% No
  • 19% Difficult to say

Regarding the deployment of the Canada-led multinational NATO battalion to Latvia, 43% view it as positive, 30% as neutral and 17% as negative with the remainder unable to form any opinion.

There are also tests for various themes and memes taken from the realm of infowar and propaganda. Asked if Latvia merits the description of a "failed state", 15% agreed whereas 77% disagreed.

Similarly the common accusation from the Kremlin that fascists are in charge in Latvia gets very little support (5.5% agree, 89% disagree) and the accussation that concentration camps are being built for Russian speakers is believed by only a credulous 1%. 

Encouragingly, two-thirds of those surveyed (66.5%) said they believed the armed forces had developed in a positive direction during the last year.

Nearly as many (62%) believe some form of special military training should be made available to the general public and a similar number (61%) believe that by participating in international missions, Latvia is helping to strengthen its own security.

59% welcomed the presence of troops from other NATO member states on Latvian soil, with 20% opposed.

The full report (in Latvian only) can be viewed HERE.

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