Ukraine: Trends in Public Opinion

A new report by the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) traces the most recent trends and changes in public opinion. In only one year, attitudes in Ukraine have shifted significantly.

The survey data on which this report is based is from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS). KIIS regularly conducts a cross-sectional all-Ukrainian public opinion poll ‘Opinions and Views of Ukrainian People’.

For the KIIS surveys in May-June 2017 and May- June 2018, the Centre for Eastern European and International Studies (ZOiS) commissioned a series of specific questions, dealing with different types of identity (state identity, ethnic identity, native language), the war in Donbas (the status issue, the Minsk agreement, US involvement in the negotiations), and individual-level links to Russia and the EU (direct migration experience, contact with family members/friends abroad).

Ukrainian identity and native language

The two most dominant identities in Ukraine are ‘Ukrainian citizen’ and ‘ethnic Ukrainian’. In 2018, more people identify as ‘Ukrainian citizen’ than in 2017. Most Ukrainians, 60% in 2018, name Ukrainian as their native language. Yet, the share of those indicating that Russian is their native language has increased.

The majority of Ukrainians reject a special status for the non-government controlled areas in the Donbas. Most people think that these territories should have the same status as before the war, i.e. as parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. However, the general willingness to consider an autonomy status—with variation regarding its parameters—has increased somewhat from 2017 to 2018.

Ukrainians vary significantly in their assessments of the Minsk Agreement. This diversity of views has not significantly changed, with the exception of one statement: as of 2018, fewer people think that a new international format that includes the US is needed to end the war.

UN peacekeeping mission

In the 2018 survey, the question was added whether respondents agreed with the statement that a UN peacekeeping mission with a mandate to eventually cover the whole territory of the non-government controlled areas would be needed to end the war. More than half of the respondents agreed with the statement, and around 20% chose the answer ‘somewhat agree’. Taken together, only around 20% of the respondents somewhat disagreed or disagreed with this statement. ‘This underlines the need for Ukrainian, Russian and international actors to step up discussions about this option within the existing negotiation framework ‘, remarks Gwendolyn Sasse.

Publication:

Gwendolyn Sasse and Alice Lackner: “Public Perceptions in Flux: Identities, War, and Transnational Linkages in Ukraine, 2017–18”, ZOiS Report 4 / 2018.