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Ukrainian attitude to Russia’s leadership takes a steep dive


In the latest Gallup poll about Ukraine, Ukrainians approval of the Russian leadership has plunged from 43% in 2013 to a mere 5% in 2014.  In the South and East of the country where the figure in 2013 was higher (57%), the percentage has fallen to 12%.

The report states that since the surveys in 2014 excluded the Crimea and ‘separatist-controlled areas of Donbas, “the comparisons between 2013 and 2014 are based on the same coverage area”.

The interviews were taken in September and October during the official ceasefire in Donbas.  The results indicate a sharp move from the generally

“The drastic change in approval is not that surprising given Russia’s backing of pro-Russian separatists and its gas dispute with Ukraine, but it marks a full divorce from Ukrainians’ generally high approval ratings of Russian leadership over the past decade. Importantly, ratings have declined sharply across all of Ukraine -- including the country’s typically more Russian-leaning South and East, where 57% approved in 2013 and 12% approve today. In Ukraine’s Central and North and Western regions, current approval is 1% and 2%, respectively.

The report says that there has not been a significant change in attitude to the EU and USA over the last year, however the view of Germany’s leadership “which has been on the front lines of the conflict between the EU and Russia over Ukraine, has actually soured somewhat”.

It does, however, seem important that if the approval rating of the EU for Ukraine as a whole has risen from 41% to 46%, the change was much steeper for the South and East – from 20% to 32%.  There was no change in approval rating of the USA for the country as a whole with the figure constant at 38%.  The approval rating for Germany’s leadership fell from 48% to 41% in the country as a whole, but rose very slightly from 21% to 22% in the South and East.

“While the EU, the U.S. and Germany have backed economic sanctions against Russia over its continued support of pro-Russian separatists, Ukrainians’ lackluster approval of Western leaders may reflect the feeling that Western support only goes so far. The majority of Ukrainians (55%) think it is unlikely that the EU would intervene in the event of armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and about half (49%) think it is unlikely that the U.S. would get involved.

Echoing this sense of vulnerability, Ukrainians are somewhat warmer toward NATO than they have been in the past when they, like residents of many other former Soviet countries,  were more likely to see NATO as a threat. As controversy swirls over Ukraine’s potential bid to join the alliance, 36% of Ukrainians today view the organization as protection and 20% view it as a threat.”

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