By Oksana Grytsenko
The number of Ukrainians who support joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has grown to the highest level since 2014, reaching 53 percent in June, according to a poll published on July 9.
Twenty-nine percent of Ukrainians said they would vote against joining NATO, while 14 percent were undecided, and 4 percent would not vote at all.
The poll was conducted on June 13-23 by Rating Group Ukraine on behalf of the International Republican Institute, the United States-based non-profit. The survey included 2,400 respondents all over Ukraine with a margin of error not exceeding 2 percent.
In May, the number of people who said they would vote for joining NATO was 49 percent. In June 2018, it was 43 percent.
In March 2014, the month when Russia annexed Crimea and started igniting violence in eastern Ukraine, only 34 percent Ukrainians wanted to vote for joining NATO, the poll shows.
When answering about the benefits of NATO membership, 44 percent of people who support joining the Alliance believe that it would defend Ukraine, 46 percent say it would help to increase the standards of Ukraine’s defense system and 6 percent say it would help to elevate the country’s international prestige.
The idea of the referendum about joining NATO was brought to the public by President Volodymyr Zelensky back in March when he was campaigning for the presidency. Zelensky then claimed in an interview to western media that though he supports both joining NATO and the European Union, these issues should be decided by national referendum.
In February, the parliament passed the amendments to make intentions of joining of NATO and EU part of Ukraine’s Constitution by the initiative of Zelensky’s predecessor President Petro Poroshenko.
As of June, when answering which economic union Ukraine should enter, 59 percent of respondents said it should be the EU, while 19 percent believe it should be Russia-led Customs Union.
Zelensky, who was inaugurated for the presidency in May, remains the most popular politician, with 75 percent of the people saying they support him and just 13 — don’t support, the poll shows. The next goes Dmytro Razumkov, leader of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, with 45 percent support and 21 non-support.
Rock singer Vyacheslav Vakarchuk, leader of Golos party, is the third most popular one with 38 percent of approval rating and the same disapproval rating.
Poroshenko has the highest disapproval rating among all politicians with 74 percent people disliking him and 16 percent still supporting him.
The poll also reflects the overwhelming support of Zelensky’s party. The 50 percent of the decided voters were ready to support it if the elections took place next Sunday. Nevertheless, this poll, conducted in mid-June, could have not reflected the recent slight fall of party’s rating.
The next most popular party is pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life with 12 percent support among those decided. Vakarchuk’s Golos party has 8 percent support, followed by Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party with 7 percent and Batkivshchyna party of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko with 6 percent of the vote.
Strength and Honor party of Ihor Smeshko, former head of SBU state security service, has 4 percent support and thus keeps a chance to reach the 5-percent threshold to get in parliament.
The parliament elections to be held on July 21.Top