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Pro peace, but against getting involved: Belgians weigh in on Ukraine war

13:43 28/03/2022

Belgians overwhelmingly said they want peace in Ukraine, but are against becoming involved in the war against Russia, according to the results of Le Soir’s Grand Baromètre survey.

A large majority (around 90%) of survey respondents said the Russian invasion of Ukraine worried them, and expressed support for more sanctions but not direct intervention.

While there weren’t significant differences by region, Flemish respondents reported the least amount of worry compared to Brussels and Wallonia. 

Specifically, people reported fear of a third world war or the expansion of the conflict to the rest of the European continent, followed by fears of a nuclear attack.

Belgians also said they wondered above all how long the Ukrainian resistance would be able to hold out against Russian invaders: more than 60% of respondents feared a complete occupation of the country.

Women and the elderly were statistically more worried than the rest of the population.

Calls for more sanctions, but no soldiers 

Belgians also supported increased sanctions against Russia by Europe.

No additional measures were announced following last week's EU summit, and 46% of respondents said they felt that not enough was being done to stop Putin.

Still, a quarter of the Belgians questioned said sending weapons to Ukrainian fighters – either in addition to or instead of sanctions – was “a bad thing”.

So far, that has been the Belgium approach to the conflict. Belgian soldiers were deployed to the Romanian border, but remain within the territory of the European Union. 

More than 70% of the respondents think that the Belgian army would not be enough to defend the country against a Russian invasion, and this – along with a question regarding providing more financial support for defence – was one of the few areas in which a regional divide was visible. 

Approximately 76% of Flemings do not believe in the Belgian army, compared to 62% of Walloons and 58% of Brussels residents.

Those surveyed agreed that if a draft for mandatory military service were to be implemented, it should apply to both men and women alike. 

Written by Helen Lyons