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Most Ukrainians Believe that Cessation of Armed Conflict Depends on Russia

Most Ukrainians feel that ending armed conflict depends on Russia. This is evidenced by the results of the nationwide sociological survey “Attitudes of Ukrainians to issues related to overcoming negative consequences of the armed conflict in Ukraine.” It was conducted by the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research in cooperation with ZMINA Human Rights Centre on behalf of the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and with the support of the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine. Promote Ukraine publishes the main findings of the study.

According to the survey, the vast majority of respondents (more than 80%) believe that Ukraine is in the armed conflict with Russia, but some respondents do not agree with this thesis (14.5%), and another 4.8% are undecided.

At the same time, the vast majority of respondents believe that the occupation of Crimea and the conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are part of one and the same armed conflict with Russia (72.3% strongly agree, another 12.2% agree with this thesis).

The majority of Ukrainians (67.2% speaking of CADLR [certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions currently occupied by the Russian Federation] and 64.5% speaking of Crimea) believe that the cessation of the conflict will primarily depend on Russia and its stance.

About a third point out that the conflict must be resolved by Ukraine (35.6% speaking of CADLR and 30.9% speaking of Crimea). Much fewer respondents hope for the efforts of the European countries (14.0% speaking of CADLR and 11.7% speaking of Crimea) and the USA (16.8% and 14.0%, respectively).

More than half of respondents (54.0%) indicate that Ukraine should not make any compromises to end the armed conflict in CADLR.

At the same time, the respondents highlight the following possible compromises:

  • Granting CADLR autonomy within Ukraine (13.0%)
  • Granting CADLR extended economic powers within Ukraine (9.2%)
  • Granting Russian the status of the second state language (8.5%)
  • Granting independence to the so-called “LPR” and “DPR” (5.0%)
  • Pardoning all those who served in illegal armed formations in the occupied Crimea and/or CADLR (4.8%)
  • Rejecting Ukraine’s NATO membership (4.1%)
  • Rejecting Ukraine’s European integration (2.8%)
  • Recognising Crimea as the territory of the Russian Federation (2.2%)

The restoration of Ukraine’s control over CADLR is perceived as a real possibility by 70.4% of respondents (23.5% are skeptical). Regarding the prospects for the restoration of Ukraine’s control over Crimea, 57.5% believe this is possible, while 36.9% consider Crimea lost to Ukraine.

Temporarily occupied territories

A significant number of respondents (46.6%) consider residents of CADLR and Crimea to be victims of the conflict and believe that they need full-fledged support from Ukraine. The majority of respondents (72.4%) believe that it is necessary to provide the residents of CADLR and Crimea with the greatest possible access to public services and to create conditions for them to maintain ties and communicate with the government-controlled territories of Ukraine. However, 12.9% of Ukrainians do not agree that resources should be spent on maintaining ties with residents of CADLR and Crimea, and 24.6% of respondents agree that the residents of Crimea and CADLR stayed in the non-government controlled areas of their own free will, so Ukraine should not support them.

Respondents are ambivalent about the issue:

  • 24.3% of respondents support the full recognition of the documents issued in the territory of CADLR and Crimea
  • 21.5% are ready to agree that some of the documents issued in the territory of CADLR and Crimea can be recognised
  • 11.5% are ready to support the recognition of data indicated in such documents and issuance of relevant Ukrainian ones
  • 35.3% oppose recognition of the documents issued in the territory of CADLR and Crimea

The Russian citizenship acquired by CADLR residents is considered a crime by 11.5% of respondents. The attitude towards the Russian citizenship acquired in the occupied Crimea is almost identical – 25.1% of respondents are not ready to recognise it as citizenship and 9.9% consider it a crime.

The vast majority of Ukrainians do not condemn living in the occupied territories and working at the educational institutions, and half (50.1%) of respondents agree that there should be no restrictions on the rights of residents of CADLR and Crimea after Ukraine restores its control over these territories. Only 9.8% believe that residents of non-government controlled areas should be restricted in their voting rights, and 19.6% believe that those who lived in Crimea and CADLR will have to confirm Ukrainian citizenship status.

The cooperation with the occupation administrations in Crimea and CADLR is perceived as a criminal offence by the majority (62.1%) of respondents. Among the most condemned actions: holding senior positions in the so-called authorities (52.6%), or holding any positions in bodies of local self-government in the so-called “DPR” / “LPR”, Crimea (43.8%), and service in law enforcement, judicial bodies of the so-called “DPR” / “LPR” or Crimea (48.7%). Moreover, 34.9% of respondents are ready to consider compulsory military service in Crimea and CADLR a crime.

How to restore peace?

Among the most important steps towards restoring peace in Ukraine, respondents indicated the need to develop a national strategy for ending the armed conflict and restoring peace (38.0%) and better informing people in Crimea and CADLR about the events in Ukraine (25.6%). Some respondents (22.7%) indicate that it is necessary to create opportunities for dialogue with ordinary people from Crimea and CADLR.

According to the large proportion of respondents (74.4%), the President of Ukraine should initiate the creation of a state action plan for the transition from armed conflict to peace.

The much smaller number of respondents believe this should be done by the Cabinet of Ministers (31.0%) and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (34.3%). At the same time, every 10th Ukrainian (10.7%) does not consider it necessary to do something until the end of the armed conflict, and the same number of respondents (9.4%) are undecided on this issue.

Therefore, Ukrainians in all regions are well aware that we face one and the same international armed conflict in Crimea and Donbas caused by the Russian armed aggression. “We see that a large part of Ukraine is optimistic about regaining control over the temporarily occupied territories. This gives us the impetus to continue working and being optimistic about the new platforms and new initiatives introduced in Ukraine, including the Crimea Platform initiative,” said Anton Korynevych, the President’s Permanent Representative to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, during the presentation of the study.

Natalia Tolub

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