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IRI Poll in Ukraine Finds Continued Support for European Integration Against Backdrop of COVID-19 Pandemic

May 17, 2021

 

Kyiv, Ukraine The latest national public opinion survey conducted by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) in Ukraine reveals major concerns about the direction of the country and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey also shows a lack of confidence in the country’s political leaders but strong support for accession to the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  

“The people of Ukraine are clearly concerned about the economic downturn due to COVID-19,” said Stephen Nix, Director of IRI’s Eurasia Division. “It is now incumbent upon the government to follow through on key economic reforms and anti-corruption efforts that are so essential to revitalizing the Ukrainian economy.”  

The survey shows 87% of Ukrainians believe COVID-19 will continue to have a negative influence on the economy. The economic fallout from the pandemic has had a strong impact in the political arena as many Ukrainians have started to lose confidence in their national leaders.  

Only 38% of Ukrainians approve of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s job performance, according to the poll. This is a steady decline from the 49% approval he had in September 2020, and from his 67% approval rate in June of 2019. Other institutions have seen similar declines. The Cabinet of Ministers saw its approval rating drop to 16% in this poll, down from 27% in September 2020. The Parliament of Ukraine also saw a decline to 14%, from 22% during the same period. 

The survey also shows continued and strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and reintegration of Donbas and Crimea, territories attacked and occupied by Russia since 2014. Ukrainians overwhelmingly support the reintegration of Crimea, with 80% saying it should be governed as a special autonomous region, or some other special status. Similarly, 79% of Ukrainians also feel that the territories in Donbas should be part of Ukraine either as they were before, or with a new, special status.   

As has been the case since IRI started surveying Ukrainians, this survey shows stable support for EU and NATO membership. In total, 54% of Ukrainians report the EU as their preferred international economic bloc, while only 20% would choose to align with the Russia-led Eurasian Customs Union.  Regarding NATO, 48% of Ukrainians support joining the Alliance, as opposed to 28% who prefer to stay out.  

"Strong support for the EU and NATO is encouraging,” said Nix. “The Ukrainian people know that strong democracies are prosperous and reliable partners for peace.” 

Methodology 

The survey was conducted by the Sociological Group “Rating” on behalf of the Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) of the International Republican Institute throughout all of Ukraine (except for in the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas) between March 13 and March 21, 2021. The methodology relied on in-person interviews at the respondents’ homes with a total sample size of 2,400 residents aged 18 and older. The results were weighted according to region, age and gender distribution based on data from the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine as of January 1, 2019. The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level does not exceed 2%. The response rate was 54%. This survey is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).