Poll reveals what Ukrainian youth think about Russian aggression in Ukraine

16:20, 22 January 2018

The nationwide poll “Youth of Ukraine 2017” conducted by the New Europe Center and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in cooperation with the sociological company GfK Ukraine is one of the most comprehensive attempts to understand and assess the sentiments of Ukrainian youth not only in recent years, but perhaps also for the entire period of Ukraine’s independence.


The events of recent years that affected a part of Ukrainian youth personally, such as the Euromaidan, annexation of Crimea, the anti-terrorist operation in Eastern Ukraine, and forced relocation due to military actions in Donbas, could not but influence their perception of relations with Russia. The opinion poll, analyzed by the New Europe Center, reflects the sentiments that are already affecting and will further influence domestic and foreign policy priorities of Ukraine.

The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine is one of the five major issues that concern Ukrainian youth today, along with such challenges as the state of economy (63%), general decline in living standards (60%), problems with employment (52%), corruption, and incompetence of the authorities (51%).

There are differences between Ukrainians from various regions in certain issues, but they are not dramatic enough to assume any public split in the society. Moreover, some of the questions concerning relations between Ukraine and Russia combine the positions of the East and the West, and the general critical attitude toward Russian aggression and, in particular, to the annexation of Crimea, is the common denominator.

Most young Ukrainians (65%) are confident that Ukraine and Russia are at war.

Read alsoUkraine significantly ahead of IS in list of enemies of Russia - pollAn absolute minority of respondents consider sanctions against Russia futile or groundless: the option that “sanctions should have been lifted long ago” has been selected by 2%, while the option that “sanctions should have not been introduced at all” is shared by only 3% of the respondents.

Almost every tenth (12%) young Ukrainian believes that sanctions could be lifted according to the Minsk Process, i.e. when Russia complies with the relevant requirements for settling the situation in Donbas. Similarly, nearly every tenth respondent (11%) admits that sanctions could be lifted after Putin resigns. 7% are convinced that sanctions should not be lifted until Moscow returns Crimea.

60% of Ukrainian youth believe that Russia’s aggressive policy toward Ukraine cannot be justified.

Most young Ukrainians believe that Russia is responsible for escalation of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine (61%). Ukraine is blamed by only 5%.

Most young Ukrainians (56%) believe that the conflict with Russia can only be settled if Russia returns Crimea and withdraws the military forces from Donbas.

Most young people do not feel sympathy for those who are fighting against the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Eastern Ukraine. Overall, 62% of respondents do not support their cause.

Only 8% agreed that Russia is making sufficient efforts to settle the conflict with Ukraine. 58% of young Ukrainians do not agree with this statement.

Only 15% of young Ukrainians believe that the West makes sufficient efforts to settle the conflict, while 38% of respondents are more critical of the role of the Western states.

Only 13% of young people have negative attitudes toward the collapse of the USSR. Moreover, there is a noticeable trend on approval of this event, as 34% regard this fact as positive, while neutral option has been chosen by 19%.

Read alsoSociologist names 3 scenarios for Ukraine in 201858% of respondents from the Eastern region were not able to answer who has greater responsibility for triggering an armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Of those who responded, 22% named Russia and 13% blamed Ukraine.

Respondents from different regions displayed a peculiar unity when evaluating the statement that only politicians are responsible for triggering the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, while the ordinary citizens are innocent. Overall, from 41% in the West to 84% in Kyiv support this statement; the same version of the origins of the conflict is shared by 45% of respondents in the East, 52% in the Center, 59% in the South, and 62% in the North.

Among the opinions of the younger generation, researchers observe a rather broad plurality of views regarding various issues concerning relations between Ukraine and Russia. Despite respondents’ willingness to avoid polarization, however, there are noticeable regional differences in the perception of events around the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the authors conclude.

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