Throughout November 2019, one of the major Ukrainian pollsters, Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF), in collaboration with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology conducted a nationwide public opinion survey on Ukrainians’ attitudes towards the country’s European integration.
2041 respondents were surveyed in 110 settlements in all Ukrainian regions, except for the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea. In Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts only government-controlled territories were polled. According to the DIF, the theoretical sampling error does not exceed 2.3%.
Today 5 November, the Foundation has published the results of the survey and compared them to the results in 2013-2018.
The key finding of the poll is that the majority of Ukrainian citizens (53%) believe that Ukraine should join the European Union in the future. Some 13% support the so-called Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan – Russia’s most recent attempt to resurrect the Soviet Union after the previous, unsuccessful neo-USSR known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Meanwhile, about one quarter of Ukrainians (24%) see the future of Ukraine outside both EU and EAEU.
The Russia-oriented foreign policy preferences significantly dropped after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and, especially, after its military aggression in the Donbas.
“However, most of those who put hope on joining alliances with Russia moved to the ranks of those who think that Ukraine should join neither the European Union nor the Eurasian Union,” the summary of the survey reads.
The highest pro-EU support is in the west of Ukraine (71%), followed by central provinces (60%). Meanwhile, the southern and eastern oblasts support Ukraine’s EU accession by 32% and 34% respectively. The second most popular opinion in the southeast is non-accession to both EU and Russia’s Eurasian Union (south: 21%, east: 30%). Supporters of integration with Russia came third with 24% in the south and 27% in the east.
The poll shows that both European and Russian integration support has gained about 3% among Ukrainians since 2018.
Among the various political forces, the Opposition Platform For Life stands out for the clear pro-Russian stance of its supporters: 60% of these see future Ukraine within the Russian project of the EAEU and only 8% take a pro-EU stance.
Meanwhile, the highest support for European integration appears to be among the adherents of ex-President Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party (90%). Most supporters of incumbent President Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party stand for Ukraine’s movement towards the EU (54%), while 22% of them prefer to remain outside the unions.
The respondents believe that the most significant obstacles on the Ukrainian way to the EU membership are:
- corruption issues (44%);
- insufficient level of Ukraine’s economic development (40%);
- poor quality of life (34%);
- war in the Donbas (20%);
- issues with democracy, human rights in Ukraine (17%).
According to the survey, the measures that the European Union should take in order to speed up reforms in Ukraine are as follows:
- “put more pressure on the Ukrainian authorities in the reform-related issues” (22%), this opinion is most popular in western regions where 34% support this option;
- “oppose Russia more overtly” (14%);
- “support young talented Ukrainians more” (13%);
- “ensure prospects of membership” (10%).
A considerable share of the respondents in the east (31%) were not able to answer this question.
On 27 February 2014, the European Parliament recognized in its resolution Ukraine’s right to “apply to become a Member of the Union, provided that it adheres to the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law.”
On 21 February 2019, amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution that fixed Ukraine’s aspiration to become a member of the European Union and NATO came into force. A poll revealed that in June 2019, the number of Ukrainians who support the Ukrainian membership in NATO grew to the highest level since 2014, reaching 53%.
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