Ukrainians Favor Holding a Referendum on Whether to Join NATO, Remain Neutral, or Partner with Russia

by | Mar 1, 2022


According to The Premise Poll, Which Conducted a Nationwide Survey of 1,032 Ukrainians on February 9

Premise survey finds support for joining NATO wins by over 2:1 over choice of neutrality – and by almost 7:1 over partnering with Russia

Almost two-thirds of Ukrainians in sample see greater economic benefits in aligning with European Union than Russia; margin favoring EU over Russia is 4:1

In a survey conducted in Ukraine in a single day among 1,032 Ukrainians nationwide, 77% – more than three quarters – of respondents said they favored holding a referendum on whether to join NATO, remain neutral, or align with Russia, with results favoring the referendum across the board by region, gender, and age.

Respondents in the survey were given a definition of NATO as “the American-European joint military defense alliance” before answering the questions. Here are some of the significant findings:

– Ukrainian respondents overwhelmingly favored joining NATO vs. neutrality by an almost two-to-one margin (55%-28%). They also indicated they would vote to join NATO vs. partnering with Russia by a 7:1 margin (55%- 8%).

– Almost 2 out of 3 Ukrainians in the sample (65%) see economic benefits to joining the European Union, more than four times than those who prefer partnering with Russia economically (14%).

Comparing regions is important since historically, western Ukraine has been more nationalistic and anti-Russia vs. eastern Russian, where there are historically cultural and linguistic ties to Russia.

– According to the results, a majority of Ukrainian respondents from eastern Ukraine favor a referendum on whether to join NATO, remain neutral, or partner with Russia, by a margin of 64%-36%.

– Even on the issue of joining NATO vs. partnering with Russia, the normally more pro-Russian eastern region favors joining NATO over Russia by a margin of 31% – 20%. However, the easterners prefer neutrality over joining NATO by a margin of 38% – 31%, which is too small to be statistically significant.

– In sum, when asked to choose between neutrality or aligning with NATO vs. partnering with Russia, 69% of the normally pro-Russian respondents in the eastern region choose neutrality/NATO vs. 20% that chose partnering with Russia.

– On the other hand, sentiment among western Ukrainian respondents on the referendum and joining NATO was, as expected, overwhelmingly in favor of both. 92% of westerners favor a referendum vs. 8% opposed, and on whether to join NATO vs. neutrality or partnering with Russia, 81% favor joining NATO, 11% favor neutrality, and only 3% (statistically equivalent to zero) favor partnering with Russia.

There is no doubt that across the board, Ukrainian respondents in this sample see greater economic benefits aligning with the European Union than partnering with Russia and its allies. Almost 2-out-of-3 Ukrainians in the sample (65%) see economic benefits to siding with the European Union, more than four times than those who prefer partnering with Russia economically (14%). Even among eastern region respondents, the margin choosing the EU over partnering with Russia is almost 2-to-1: 44% favor the EU vs. 23% partnering with Russia.

There is also no doubt that there is overwhelming nationwide dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Ukraine for all Ukrainian respondents: 81% say they are dissatisfied, while only 12% say they are satisfied. Respondents in the eastern region of Ukrainian are slightly more dissatisfied (82%) than westerners in the sample (72%), presumably because the Russian occupation and deaths on the Ukraine side of the eastern occupation zone are significant. 

Differences between men and women on the basis of age are not significant in any of these questions. It appears that men are slightly more favorable to aligning with NATO vs. women, and younger people (ages 18-29) are slightly more satisfied with the way things are going in Ukraine than older age groups. But the differences are not statistically significant.

Comment on the methodology of the Premise Poll February 9 Ukraine survey:

These results are based on an internet survey of 1,032 Ukrainians conducted on February 9, 2022, via the Premise smartphone application. Respondents were compensated for their participation. Post-stratification weights were applied to accurately reflect the gender, age, and regional distribution of the general population based on 2020 demographic data from World Pop. 

[FOOTNOTE: Premise used as it is the leading peer-reviewed source for population distribution data and Ukraine has not had a national census since 2001]

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