What do they think in Ukraine of territorial transfers and NATO, according to an internal survey

What do they think in Ukraine of territorial transfers and NATO, according to an internal survey

What do they think in Ukraine of territorial transfers and NATO

Lviv - Most of the Ukrainian population, including that of the east, does not want to give parts of territory to Russia in exchange for peace, but they have a flexible position regarding NATO. It emerges from private discussions or those on the street, now that temperatures are almost summer and alcohol has been almost entirely liberalized. Countless users on social media say it. But now it is also said, putting it in black and white, a survey of the International Institute of Sociology of Kyiv (Kiis), considered one of the most respectable and reliable in the country, which on Tuesday 24 May published the results of its first survey since the beginning. of the Russian invasion.

For 82% of the interviewees no concessions of pieces of Ukraine are allowed, even if it meant ending the war and preserving independence. It is a fact that, significantly, is reflected in all regions of Ukraine, even among the respondents who currently live in the territories occupied by the Russian army: 77% are against any territorial concession, against 18% in favor. Even in the East, where the fighting is concentrated and where the cultural, social and ideological fault between pro-Russians and pro-Kyiv has been lacerating for decades, 68% oppose the concessions while one in five is willing to talk about it.

This poll comes as the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, said in his latest message to the public that for Kyiv Russia will have to leave, as well as the cities Kherson, Melitopol, Mariupol and "all other communities where they think they are the masters ”also Crimea, illegally occupied since 2014. However, according to several observers, the fact that Zelensky claims he does not want to give up sovereignty over the peninsula does not exclude that this could be part of a hypothetical negotiation with Moscow. Zelensky himself added, in the same message, that taking Crimea back by military means could cost "hundreds of thousands of deaths".

The war of the poor: an identikit of the soldiers that Putin sends to Ukraine The military deployed by the Kremlin for the invasion come from the poorest areas of Russia. And there is a reason, indeed different, behind this choice. Complicated surveys The surveys carried out during conflicts are notoriously plagued by numerous problems, which often significantly affect the error range: the massive displacement of the population and the difficulty of reach respondents by telephone, for example. Or the so-called "spiral of silence", a theory on the persuasive effects of the media according to which newspapers and televisions contribute to emphasizing prevailing opinions and positions while silencing minority ideas and opinions.

The Kiis poll was conducted from 13 to 18 May 2022 on 2,000 adult respondents living in all regions of Ukraine, except Crimea, which has been annexed to Russia since 2014. In publishing the research, Kiis admits that about 10% of citizens cannot be reached because they moved overseas and about 1-2% cannot be reached due to poor connection with some of the occupied areas. The pollsters' text also reports that the "spiral of silence" overestimates "pro-Ukraine" positions by about 4-6%.

Despite these limitations, Kiis believes his work may be quite representative . Furthermore, the institute assumes that the demographic segments that went abroad with the war and that are inaccessible to telephone interviews do not differ, at least for now, significantly from the segments that remained in Ukraine.

Someone remains critical. “Personally, I find it highly questionable the hypothesis that the refugees who have left Ukraine do not have political attitudes different from those of those who have remained. At the very least, in this group there are many more women and, perhaps, resident in the south-eastern regions ”, writes the sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko, who also agrees with the basic results of the research.

From the Kiis research Another interesting fact emerged years ago: the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine above all wanted stability, not secession. In a survey conducted in April 2014 in the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, where the secessionists still have more following, "only" 30% of the population would have wanted annexation to Moscow. More autonomy yes: 50% of the citizens of the Donbass was asking for it, even then. The question of autonomy was at the heart of the controversial Minsk agreements, conceived as a hub for the solution of the conflict that arose following the impeachment of the then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, notoriously close to the Russian government. Autonomy as compromise, therefore, between Russia's imperialist aspirations and Ukraine's need to preserve its territorial integrity.

How to join NATO After Russia's aggression against Ukraine, several countries have begun to activate the procedures to enter NATO, starting with Finland On joining NATO The survey reports 42% of Ukrainians willing to accept Ukraine's neutrality on condition nor that the main Western powers guarantee its safety. 39%, on the other hand, would still insist on joining NATO.

In the days following the February 24 invasion, some polls reported an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (62%) eager to join the alliance and many analysts have defended this number by making it a question of "self-determination". But the Ukrainians' attitude towards NATO has always been rather volatile and complicated.

Before the invasion, there was never a clear and stable majority in support of membership. The country's status of neutrality, which excluded it from entering any military bloc, was inscribed in the Constitution for almost thirty years. In December 2007, on the eve of the infamous Bucharest summit which stipulates that Ukraine and Georgia "will become members of NATO", less than 20% of Ukrainian citizens were in favor of joining NATO.

Two reasons have contributed to more than 40% of the pro-Atlanticist sentiment in public opinion: on the one hand, the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization in Donbass by the Kremlin, on the other hand the fact that polls have included fewer and fewer citizens of territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government.

Today as yesterday, support for NATO in Ukraine varies according to the geographical location: the western regions, catholic and traditionally anti-virus, are those where the segments in favor are in strong majority. In the east, however, uncertainty prevails: many former supporters of Russia still support neutrality. While for some NATO membership becomes almost a question of identity, many others support NATO in a context-conditioned and possibly changeable way.

In these days in Lviv and Kyiv the disappointment of many Ukrainians towards it is palpable. of the Nat or about the attitude of the alliance regarding the current invasion. Countries such as Great Britain, the United States and Poland are seen as more useful than NATO as a whole, unable to please Ukrainian citizens who demanded a decisive response or the closure of airspace. A further cooling of pro-NATO enthusiasm in the future cannot be ruled out.

In any case, the survey shows broad opposition to territorial concessions. This means that, if they were to reveal themselves as necessary, these compromises could be very painful to accept and get accepted. However, since Kiis does not ask which territories could be the object of negotiation, it cannot be ruled out that some of the interviewees consider Crimea or the Donbass already "lost". “For an elected politician like Zelensky, these numbers are certainly worthy of attention. The bottom line is that we will probably see much more fighting on the ground before political discussions even begin, ”Johns Hopkins University historian Sergey Radchenko writes on Twitter.

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