A recent Ukrainian public opinion survey revealed that while Ukrainians overwhelmingly hold hope for the future of their country, there is a deep mistrust towards the intentions of NATO and the European Union (EU). The survey, conducted between July 25-27 through telephone interviews in regions of Ukraine not under Russian occupation, provided insights into Ukrainian sentiments surrounding the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Among respondents aged 18 and above, an impressive 84% expressed positivity and hope for Ukraine’s future. However, when it comes to NATO and the EU, a significant 71% believe that these entities prioritize their own interests and use Ukraine for their strategic objectives. This suspicion is further strengthened by the perception of clandestine negotiations with Russia, with 61% of participants sharing the belief that the support extended by NATO and the EU is driven by self-gain.
While only 29% of those surveyed anticipate Ukraine’s accession to NATO within the coming year, approximately half of the respondents expect the conflict with Russia to conclude by 2024. However, a majority of Ukrainians harbor uncertainty regarding the aftermath of the conflict. In fact, 56% fear that Ukraine might find itself indebted to Western nations due to the provision of weaponry and assistance during the war.
Bilateral relationships also came under scrutiny in the survey. Ukrainians hold a positive regard for neighboring Poland, which has been a steadfast ally throughout the conflict. However, a recent dispute over grain exports has strained this amicable sentiment. Comments made by Marcin Przydacz, head of Polish President Andrzej Duda’s international policy office, implying Ukraine’s need to acknowledge Poland’s supportive role, stirred controversy. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal criticized Poland’s continuing grain ban but blamed Russia for disrupting agricultural initiatives.
On the other hand, Ukrainians view the United Kingdom and the United States favorably, with 81% expressing trust in both nations as allies. The survey also highlighted the predominant concern among Ukrainians regarding the Russian invasion, which is the possibility of forced displacement to the Russian periphery, such as Siberia. While a majority (57%) believes that the war between Ukraine and Russia was unavoidable, those in eastern regions are comparatively more optimistic about its preventability.
Interestingly, a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS indicated that a majority of Americans are now opposed to providing further aid to Ukraine. The poll revealed that 56% of Americans oppose increased aid for Ukraine’s war effort, with 51% feeling their country has already contributed sufficiently to Ukraine’s battle against Russian forces. This highlights a divergence in public opinion between Ukraine and the United States regarding the provision of aid.
Furthermore, signs of war weariness have emerged within Ukraine itself. A scandal involving bribery within enlistment offices has come to light, with Yevhen Borisov being arrested for allegedly accepting significant sums in exchange for deeming men unfit for military service. The arrest followed suspicions raised when Borisov’s mother acquired a multimillion-euro property. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence reported ongoing investigations into 106 conscription offices, leading to the arrest of several employees involved in bribe-taking.
In sum, while Ukrainians hold hope for their country’s future, there is a deep mistrust of the motivations of NATO and the EU. The fear of indebtedness to Western nations and concerns about the aftermath of the conflict with Russia further exacerbate this mistrust. The survey also shed light on the divergence in public opinion between Ukraine and the United States regarding the provision of aid. Additionally, internal issues such as a bribery scandal within enlistment offices add to the war weariness experienced by the Ukrainian population. Despite these challenges, Ukrainians maintain a positive regard for countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as neighboring Poland.