Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Russians as Ready to Attack NATO Member Latvia as Non-NATO Member Georgia, Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 20 – It is an article of faith in the West and in many of Russia’s neighbors that Moscow won’t attack a neighboring country that is a member of NATO. But research conducted in 2021before Putin invaded Ukraine by two scholars from Denmark casts doubt on that at least as far as the Russian population is concerned.

            Instead, they found, Russians were as ready to attack Latvia, which is in NATO, as they are to attack Georgia, which isn’t (Suthan Krishnarajan and Jakob Tolstrup,Pre-war experimental evidence that Putin’s propaganda elicited strong support for military invasion among Russians,” Science Advances 9:45 (2023) at

            (For a discussion of this research, including interviews with one of its authors and other experts, see

            The study was not based on a poll but rather in the following way: 4144 respondents were first provided with a story about a situation and then asked questions on the basis of their reaction to it. That allowed the authors to find out how people felt about things that had not yet happened but could.

            Concerning the possibility of Russian military moves against its neighbors, the study reached four key conclusions: provocations work, Russians were equally prepared to support an attack on a NATO country and a non-NATO one, Putin’s escalation rhetoric worked, but his efforts to deescalate worked much less effectively.

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