Results from a sociological survey, conducted by the TNS on the request of the Institute of World Policy.The vast majority of citizens of Ukraine believe that Ukraine’s foreign policy requires changes. Furthermore, Ukrainians show a pragmatic approach to the priorities of Ukraine’s foreign policy and advocate its economization. These are the results of opinion poll conducted by TNS on request of the Institute of World Policy within the project “Ukraine`s Foreign Policy Audit”.
We asked two questions:
1. What, in your opinion, should be the main priorities of Ukraine’s foreign policy?
(the respondents could choose up to three options)
2. As of today, which country`s foreign policy should be an example for Ukraine?
(the respondents could choose only one country)
1. What should be the main priorities of Ukraine’s foreign policy?
The vast majority of citizens of Ukraine, regardless of their age, gender or region of residence, are convinced that Ukraine’s foreign policy requires changes. This statement is not supported by only 0.2% (!) of respondents.
Over a half of respondents believe that the main priority of Ukraine’s foreign policy should be the search for new markets (54.1%). Moreover, this rate is equally high in all regions of Ukraine among the adult population (over 18 years), both men and women (50% and more).
Second and third places in the list of top foreign policy priorities for Ukraine belong to integration into the EU and integration into NATO supported by 30.4% and 27.9% of the respondents respectively. As expected, these options had the highest level of support in western regions (48.6% for the EU and 40.9% for the NATO), and the lowest in the East (23.7% and 20% respectively). Attitudes toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration show distinct gender differences: more men favour these policies than women (37.1% and 24.2% in favour of integration into the EU, and 35.2% and 21.1% in favour of Euro-Atlantic integration). The older are respondents, the more they support Ukraine`s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. This is a new trend in Ukraine, because integration into NATO traditionally had most supporters among the youth.
Slightly fewer Ukrainians (26.7%) favour strengthening cooperation with the neighbours in order to counter Russian aggression. This idea is mostly supported in western regions (36.5%) and Kyiv (35.4%). Moreover, every fifth respondent believes that Ukraine should become a regional leader in Eastern Europe (19.4%). Men share this opinion more frequently (25.9%) than women (13.3%).
Every fourth Ukrainian believes that Ukraine should be a neutral state (24.7%). In eastern Ukraine, this opinion is three times more popular (32.9%) than in the western regions (9.9%).
Almost the same percentage of respondents support the multi-vector foreign policy of Ukraine (21.5%). This opinion is mostly shared in northern, central and southern regions (over 27%) with the lowest support in western part of Ukraine (10.5%).
One tenth of the respondents supports a possible return to the pre-conflict level of cooperation with Russia even at the expense of national interests (10.4%). About the same percentage of the respondents believe that Ukraine should become a bridge between the West and Russia (8.6%). Support for these policies has distinct regional differences: the idea of cooperation with Russia is mostly supported by the residents of eastern regions (18.6%), with the lowest rate in western and northern regions. The idea of cooperation with Russia has virtually no support in the western regions of Ukraine (only 1.7%).
In general, the residents of eastern regions traditionally show greater support for neutrality or cooperation with Russia, while the residents of western regions and Kyiv favour the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.
We could assume that many Ukrainians do not favour military solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, given that only 2.2% of the respondents support declaring war against Russia. However, every fifth respondent believes that professional development of Ukrainian diplomats should be a top priority of Ukraine’s foreign policy. This figure is virtually the same in all regions of Ukraine and higher among women (25.9%) than among men (17.2%).
Remarkably, the vast majority of citizens of Ukraine care about foreign policy: only 1.8% of respondents replied that they never thought about it, and only 4.6% could not answer. Most of those who could not answer the question are women (7.2% compared to 1.9% among male respondents). Such a high interest in foreign policy might be associated with Russian aggression and the need to make a final decision on the relations with strategically important partners.
2. As of today, which country`s foreign policy should be an example for Ukraine?
Among the top three countries considered as role models for Ukraine’s foreign policy are Switzerland (12.2%), Poland (11.3%), and Germany (11.2%). These results are likely to be explained primarily by the quality of life and well-being in these countries.
Furthermore, the choice of Switzerland demonstrates support of the neutrality concept among the respondents. The high support for Israel (8%) might indicate a desire to strengthen the state’s defence capabilities. Israel has the least support among the residents of northern Ukraine (3.6%), women (4.1% compared to 12.2% among male respondents) and the youth (3.6%).
Favour toward Poland might be explained by the fact that it is a role model of economic development and European and Euro-Atlantic integration for Ukraine. Moreover, the traditional attitude toward Poland as a partner and ally in Europe has played its role. Interestingly, most supporters of Polish foreign policy are residents of Kyiv, southern and western Ukraine.
Choosing Germany is not surprising, as it is one of the most economically developed states globally and one of the most powerful geopolitical actors in Europe. The reasons for choosing the US or the UK are also obvious: these are two of the most prosperous, militarily powerful and influential countries in the world.
Rather high is the position of Belarus (8%); Ukrainians consider its stability to be a «soft power».
On the other hand, the analysis of all the results shows that the respondents tend to choose the members of NATO (45.8% overall) rather than members of other military organizations.
Only 3% of citizens believe that Ukraine should align with Russia in foreign policy matters (although cooperation with Moscow is supported by 10.4% of respondents). Most of this option supporters are residents of eastern Ukraine (5.6%). In other regions this option has been chosen by only about 1% of citizens.
However, not all citizens of Ukraine are familiar with international relations; almost one fifth of the respondents could not answer the question.
– The vast majority of citizens of Ukraine (over 90%) believe that Ukraine’s foreign policy requires changes;
– Over a half of Ukrainians believe that the top priority of Ukraine’s foreign policy should be its economization, and the search for new markets (54.1%);
– Despite the overwhelming support for the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, there are regional differences regarding foreign policy priorities. In western Ukraine, people mostly support European and Euro-Atlantic integration, while in the eastern Ukraine these policies are the least popular;
– Every fourth Ukrainian supports a neutral status for their country (24.7%). The fifth part finds a role model in the foreign policy of countries that do not belong to any military alliance (Switzerland and Israel);
– Switzerland, Poland and Germany are the top three among the countries considered as role models for Ukraine’s foreign policy;
– When asked to choose a role model for Ukraine’s foreign policy, most respondents choose one of the EU and/or NATO member states.
– The results from the survey show that there are gender differences: support for EU integration and NATO integration is stronger among men compared to women by 13% and 14% respectively. Yet, support for an improvement in the level of professionalism among Ukrainian diplomats is stronger among women than men.
– One tenth of respondents supports returning to the pre-conflict level of cooperation with Russia. Most supporters of this idea are residents of eastern regions (18.6%); the lowest level of support is observed in western Ukraine (1.7%);
The poll has been conducted by TNS Ukraine within the TNS On-line Track project on request of the IWP from August 16 to 21, 2016 by online survey among urban population aged 18 to 55 throughout Ukraine (excluding Crimea). The poll has involved 1,000 respondents (a representative sample, quoted by gender, age, region, and community size and type).
The publication was prepared within the project of the Institute of World Policy “Ukraine`s Foreign Policy Audit”.The views and interpretations expressed in this publication are the Institute of World Policy’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Sweden (SIDA), Think Tank Fund, and International Renaissance Foundation.