The vast majority of Ukrainians don’t support Russian intervention in Ukraine and think Ukraine should remain a united, unitary state with strong ties to the EU. These were the results of a recent survey conducted in Ukraine by the public opinion and market research company Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization on behalf of the International Republican Institute (IRI). Despite Russia’s claims to the contrary, almost two-thirds of Russian-speaking citizens and eastern Ukrainians don’t want Russian “protection”. More than half of Russian speakers strongly approve the interim government. According to IRI polling, there is a striking difference between the true opinions of Ukrainians and how they are being portrayed by Russian propaganda.
The overwhelming majority of respondents – 85 percent of the national population – remain opposed to Moscow’s sending troops to “protect” Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine. About 92 percent of Ukrainian-speaking citizens responded that they were against Russia’s decision to send military units to Ukraine. Moreover, a large majority of respondents in eastern Ukraine – 69 percent, and 68 percent of Russian-speaking citizens – remain opposed to Russia’s intervention. Only seven percent of eastern Ukrainians answered “definitely yes” for a need to protect Russian speakers and ethnic Russians while 73 percent don’t think that the Russian army should protect them.
On the question of national unity, two-thirds of Ukrainians think that Ukraine should remain a united, unitary state. Eastern Ukraine’s population does have a view slightly different than the rest of the country – 35 percent want to live in a federal state and 40 percent support a unitary Ukraine.
Interestingly, while 54 percent of all Ukrainians have a desire to join the EU, only 27 percent of eastern Ukrainians want stronger ties with the EU. However, 57 percent of all Ukrainians and 29 percent of eastern Ukrainians are opposed to Ukraine joining the Customs Union with Russia. This demonstrates the generally pro-European orientation of Ukrainian citizens.
Despite the fact that Ukrainians remain very critical of politicians, more than half (52 percent) approve of the job of the Interim Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and 53 percent have a favorable opinion of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. In comparison to European states, such support is relatively high. According to the Eurocommission Report, the proportion of Europeans who tend not to trust national governments is about 72 percent. Interestingly, no more than 15 percent of the population of southern European countries, including Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Italy, support their national governments .
The arguments used by the Kremlin to justify its invasion of Ukraine do not reflect the reality of public opinion in Ukraine, as is demonstrated by the Ukrainian survey released by IRI. The data was collected throughout Ukraine between April 3–12, 2014 through face-to-face interviews at respondents’ homes. The sample consisted of 1,200 permanent residents of Ukraine aged 18 and older and eligible to vote.