Just one in five Ukrainians (21%) say that a peaceful end to Russian tensions is likely, compared to two thirds of Russians (65%), according to a new poll of both countries by Savanta ComRes on behalf of CNN.
The poll, released amid announcements of UK, US and EU sanctions against Russia, finds that if Russia initiates military action, around half of Ukrainians say that a NATO or US military defense of Ukraine is what they want to see (49%) and is justified (47%), but just a quarter (26%) say they expect it to happen. Instead, Ukrainians were more likely to expect the recently announced economic sanctions against both Russia’s leaders (45%) and Russian businesses (34%).
Three quarters (73%) of Ukrainians believe that Russian forces are already in the Donbas region.
Conversely, approaching half (45%) of Russians say that they want to see no response from NATO or the US if Russia initiates military action against Ukraine. However, just one in eight (12%) Russians expect no response from NATO or the US, but only slightly more (17%) expect a NATO or US military defense of Ukraine.
Half of Russians also say that it would be right for Russia to use military force to both prevent Ukraine from joining NATO (50%) and if it feels threatened by foreign activity in former Soviet countries (50%). A third (36%) of Russians say it would be right for Russia to use military force to reunite Russia and Ukraine, although slightly more (43%) say this would be wrong.
The poll also finds that Russians and Ukrainians have polar views on the relationship between the two countries and their populations. Two thirds of Russians (64%) say that Russians and Ukrainians are ‘one people’, a position taught in the Soviet era and a view that Vladimir Putin has been pushing, compared to just 28% of Ukrainians – although this rises to almost half (45%) of those in Eastern Ukraine.
However, just one in ten (9%) Ukrainians say that Ukraine should be one country (compared to 85% who say they should be separate), while a third (34%) of Russians say the countries should unify.
And similar proportions of Russians (68%) support allowing some regions of Ukraine where people ‘feel’ more Russian to formally become part of Ukraine, as Ukrainians oppose (64%). While just 13% of Ukrainians support allowing some regions of Ukraine where people may ‘feel’ more Russian to formally become part of Russia, this rises to 23% among Eastern Ukrainians.
Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes said, “This fascinating poll finds very conflicting views in the two countries, with vastly differing expectations of what the West should and will do as tensions continue to escalate.
“However, while differences in views between the countries is perhaps to be expected, there’s also a striking difference between what Ukrainians expect to happen and want to see happen, particularly in terms of a NATO or US-led military defense.
“While this poll indicates that Ukraine is not expecting the West to leap to its defense, the US and its NATO allies will need to be careful to avoid a scenario where Ukrainians feel as though the the West did not come to its aid in its time of need.”