How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Divided the World


Brands, and more generally people’s opinions, do not evolve very quickly. This is certainly true for products that have been on the market for many years, that is, unless something very big or catastrophic happens. BP suffered a major oil spill that changed people’s opinion of the company. Years ago, Audi was accused of “unintentional acceleration” and its car sales plummeted after the accusation. ValuJet crashed a plane in the Florida Everglades, sales plummeted and the company eventually dropped its name.

Most countries and their names predate all of us. The images we have of countries have been shaped over many years based on a myriad of inputs – from our early education, media coverage, films, trips we or our friends have taken, food we eat, products we buy and many other sources. Our impressions of the countries are well anchored. As such, it is difficult for images of a country to change significantly unless something very important.

The events of the past year appear to have hit that bar: Opinions in our 2022 Best Countries Study, which this year surveyed more than 17,000 global citizens to gather opinions on a total of 85 countries, have changed significantly. Most of the changes are related to the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Usually, when perceptions change following a significant event, the direction of change is relatively uniform. No one, for example, felt more positive about BP, ValuJet or Audi after having their mishaps. But after Russia invaded Ukraine, global perceptions of the two nations bifurcated. Countries have taken sides and their populations have mostly followed suit.

Russia seen from the world

In general, the perception of Russia has plummeted. In 2021, according to the Best Countries survey, Russia was ranked No. 24 in the world. In the most recent data, collected after Russia invaded Ukraine, Russia fell 12 places to 36th place. Of the countries in the top 50 of the 2022 ranking, Russia’s fall was one of the biggest year-over-year declines in the history of the ranking project. (It should be noted that the survey was not carried out in Russia this year, which means that Russians did not have the opportunity to shape their country’s ranking.) 3 position at No. 8, where he now sits for the second consecutive year. It’s more normal. There are often only small changes in perception from year to year. With regard to Russia, however, we have witnessed a sea change in world opinion.

There has been a halo effect with Russia in the sense that the nation’s overall perception has declined, as has its reputation in certain areas, which the survey calls “attributes”. Russia is perceived to be among the bottom five of the 85 countries surveyed in the following attributes:

  • Cares about human rights
  • Cares about the environment
  • Corruption
  • Racial Equity
  • Friendly and family
  • Friendly
  • Fun
  • Open for business

That said, the nation is still highly rated (among the top five countries) in the attributes below:

  • A strong army
  • Politically influential
  • A chef
  • Athletically talented
  • Power

Despite Russia’s decline in the overall rankings, there is a huge disparity in how the world views the country. At one extreme, China ranks Russia as the ninth-best country in the world, while at the other, Poland and South Korea rank Russia 69th, a difference of 60 places. The majority of countries rank Russia below No. 24, where it was ranked the previous year – only six countries rank it higher. This discrepancy is enormous.

(Professor David J. Reibstein)

Overall perceptions of Ukraine

Conversely, the overall perception of Ukraine has improved. Ukraine has risen from No. 71 in 2021 – near the bottom of the 78 ranked countries – to No. 62 out of 85 countries in 2022. This is one of the most dramatic increases by any country in a single year in the history of the ranking. . Unsurprisingly, Ukraine ranked among the bottom five countries in terms of the following attributes:

  • Sure
  • Politically stable
  • Economically stable
  • Happy
  • Good for tourism
  • Fun
  • Quality of life

The country was ranked relatively high in terms of the attributes below:

  • Power
  • strong army
  • Politically influential

Once again, the world is divided on their prospects. The vast majority of countries rate Ukraine significantly higher than they have in previous years. In contrast, China, Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil rank Ukraine lower than in 2021. Nigeria ranks Ukraine 35th – the highest ranking in the country – while China ranks l Ukraine ranked 85th, the lowest on the list.

(Professor David J. Reibstein)

Poland seen from the world

Poland, like Ukraine, received a general boost in its global reputation. The country opened its doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees, and most of the world seemed to approve. Poland rose from No. 43 in 2021 to No. 32 in 2022 – an even faster rise than Ukraine. Some of Poland’s strongest attributes include:

  • Sure
  • Cares about human rights
  • Family friendly
  • Social purpose

Unlike Russia and Ukraine, countries around the world have been relatively unified in their view of Poland. While there are some modest differences in opinions about the country, they are relatively minor, especially when compared to the contrasting opinions of the other two nations. Poland is not engaged in the conflict, but rather has offered a humanitarian weapon to those in distress, and the world has shown its gratitude and respect.

(Professor David J. Reibstein)

The results of this year’s Best Countries survey suggest that a country’s actions on the international stage can have far-reaching consequences for how it is perceived. Ukraine and Poland, united in their opposition to Russia’s invasion of the former, appear to be enjoying a moment of global goodwill. Russia’s overall reputation, on the other hand, has been badly damaged and could take years to recover.

Photos: the best countries in the world

Three giraffes against the background of Mount Kilimanjaro in the national park of Kenya, Africa

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