The Ukrainian People on the Current Crisis

Author: 
Author data: 
Evan Lewis Eric Pierce
Publication Date: 
March 2015
Description: 
Program for Public Consultation/Kiev International Institute of Sociology
Project: 
Collaborative Education and Cooperative Security
The Program for Public Consultation
U.S.-Russian Security Relations
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

Summary of Key Findings

UKRAINE’S RELATIONS WITH THE WEST AND RUSSIA

Preferred Option for Ukraine’s Relation With the EU and Russia

Overall, there is no majority position on whether Ukraine should move closer to the EU or Russia. Just under half favor moving closer to the EU; one third prefers having equally strong relations with the EU and Russia; while just one in eight prefer having s tronger relations with Russia. Views vary sharply by region. A large majority in the Western and Northern regions wants to move closer to the EU. In the South and the East the most common position is that Ukraine should have equally strong relations with the EU and Russia. Even in the rebel-held areas, a majority does not favor a closer relation to Russia.

Rating Scenarios: Moving Closer to EU or Russia
Besides probing their preferences, respondents were asked to rate separately possible future directions in terms of whether they were acceptable, unacceptable or just tolerable. This provides insight into the potential for flexibility in response to options that are not the most preferred. Less than half in the South and East rated moving toward the EU acceptable, but half or more found it at least just tolerable. However, in the rebel-held areas three in five said it was unacceptable. On moving closer to Russia, an overwhelming majority in the West and North found it unacceptable, as did a more modest majority in the South. In the East just under half found it acceptable to move closer to Russia, though a majority found it at last tolerable. In the rebel-held areas a large majority found moving toward Russia acceptable.

Rating Scenarios: Ukraine Affirming a Neutral Position Between EU and Russia
Three in five would find at least tolerable for Ukraine to affirm neutral position between the EU and Russia. Large majorities found it at least tolerable in the North, South and East and the rebel-held areas as well. The West, however, is divided with just under half finding it at least tolerable and the samenumber funding it unacceptable.

Rating Scenarios: Joining the EU
Overall, a bare majority rated joining the EU as acceptable, though two thirds rated it as at least tolerable. In the South less than half rated it as acceptable, but six in ten rated it as at least tolerable. In the East just four in ten rated it as at least tolerable, though about half rated it as unacceptable. In the rebel-held areas two thirds rated it as unacceptable.

Rating Scenarios: Joining the Eurasian Customs Union
A large majority rejects as unacceptable joining the Eurasian Customs Union, including clear majorities in the South as well as the West and North. In the East a modest majority found it at least tolerable, but only 4 in 10 found it acceptable. Not even in the rebel-held areas does a majority have a positive view.

Rating Scenarios: Joining NATO
Overall, four in ten rate joining NATO as acceptable and a bare majority sees it as at least tolerable. Clear majorities rate it as unacceptable in the South, the East, and the rebel-held areas. While a large majority says it would be acceptable in the West, only a bare majority says so in the North.

Committing to Not Join NATO
Respondents were asked about the possibility of committing to not join NATO as part of a deal wherein Russia agrees to not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Overall, a plurality was opposed.A majority favored the idea in the East. A majority opposed the idea in the West, as did a plurality in the North. The South was divided.

VIEWS OF THE CURRENT CONFLICT
Using Force Against Rebels
Overall, just less than half approve of the government using military force to try to regain territory held by separatist groups in eastern Ukraine. Majorities favor it in the West and North, views are divided in the South, and a large majority opposes it in the East.

Minsk Agreement
Large majorities in all regions approve of the September 2014 Minsk agreement, which was the basis for the February Minsk Agreement. In both rebel-held areas and Ukrainian-controlled Donbass, large majorities approve of the agreement.

The US Potentially Providing Arms to Ukraine Government
A slight majority favors the United States providing military equipment to the Ukrainian government, including majorities in the West and North. Views are divided in the South and a majority is opposed in the East.

VIEWS OF THE ROLE OF OUTSIDE PLAYERS IN THE CONFLICT

Views of Russia’s Role
Vladimir Putin’s role in current crisis is viewed negatively by large majorities in all regions except the East where he is viewed negatively by a modest majority, and in rebel-held areas where a majority approve of him. Very large majorities in all regions say they believe that Russian military personnel are engaged in the military conflict in east Ukraine. Very large majorities in all regions reject Putin’s position that Russia has the right to intervene in other countries to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers; the rebel-held areas are divided. Large majorities overall and in the West, North and South insist that Ukraine should stand up to any Russian effort to dictate to it, while in the Eastern region a bare majority believes that Ukraine needs at least to be accommodating to Russia.

Views of the US Role
Views are divided on how President Obama is dealing with the current crisis, with pluralities positive in the West and North, and pluralities negative in the South and Eastern regions. More broadly, a plurality of Ukrainians has a positive view of US influence in the world, including large majorities in the West and North. Views lean only slightly positive in the South, and lean negative in the East.

Views of the European Role
In terms of how they are dealing with the crisis in Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives plurality positive assessments in all regions--as does French President Francois Hollande, with the exception of the East, where views are divided. EU officials are viewed positively by pluralities in all regions except the East. More broadly, a modest majority of Ukrainians have a positive view of the EU, Germany, and France. Views are majority positive in the Western and Northern areas, but more mixed in the Southern and Eastern areas, including the rebel-held areas.

ASSESSING POTENTIAL OUTCOMES OF THE CONFLICT

Preferred Future for Ukraine
Overall, six in ten Ukrainians prefer to see Ukraine remain one nation governed as it is now. This is true of large majorities in the Western, Northern and Southern areas. In the East two thirds supports maintaining Ukraine as a nation, but these divide, with one third favoring being governed as now and one third giving greater autonomy to rayons within the Donbass region. One in five in the East favor some form of secession for the Donbass. In the rebel-held areas half favor keeping Ukraine one country, with a third favoring greater autonomy for parts of the Donbas and one sixth no change; four in ten favor secession, with a quarter favoring annexation by Russia.

Rating Scenarios: Ukraine Remaining One Nation Governed As it is Now
When asked to rate possible future scenarios in terms of how acceptable, tolerable or unacceptable it would be, a majority overall says that it would be acceptable for Ukraine to remain one nation governed as it is now. This is true in the West, North, and South as well, and in the East it is the most common response. However, in the rebel-held territories a majority says this would be unacceptable.

Rating Scenarios: Greater Autonomy for Certain Donbass Rayons
The scenario of preserving Ukraine’s unity but allowing greater autonomy to certain areas of Donetska and Luganska is not rated as acceptable by a majority of Ukrainians, but a majority would find it at least tolerable. This true of all major regions as well, with the most positive attitudes in the East. In the rebel held areas a majority does find it acceptable.

Rating Scenarios: Secession of the Donbass Region
Scenarios with the Donbass region seceding are rejected as unacceptable by large majorities overall and in all regions except the East. In the East a modest majority rejects secession followed by Russian annexation, but the option for secession followed by independence gets a divided response. In the rebel-held areas, less than half rate as acceptable the options for secession, though majorities find them tolerable.

OTHER ISSUES

International Economic Reform Efforts
Asked how much confidence they have in the EU, the United States, and the IMF to help reform the Ukrainian economy, views were divided between those with a lot or some confidence, and those with not very much or none. Majorities were positive in the Western and Northern regions, while negative views were held by a plurality in the South and a majority in the East.

Views of Kiev Government
Views of President Petro Poroshenko are divided, with pluralities in the West and North approving of how he is dealing with the crisis, and pluralities disapproving in the South and East. Very large majorities disapprove in the rebel-held areas. A plurality approves of the ending of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency, with large majorities approving in the West and North, and modest majorities disapproving in the South and East. In all regions the Yanukovych government is rated as highly corrupt. The current government generally gets better ratings, but is still widely seen as quite corrupt.

Crimea
The most common position in all regions is that Ukraine should not accept the loss of Crimea, but Ukraine has so many problems now that it should not make getting Crimea back right away a top priority.