Ukrainians want to stay and fight, but don’t see Russian people as the enemy. A remarkable poll from Kyiv

We have all seen the extraordinary bravery and spirit with which the people of Ukraine have responded to Putin’s brutal invasion. The results of a survey which, somewhat to my astonishment, a research firm in Kyiv was able to conduct for Lord Ashcroft Polls in the past few days only add to my admiration.

You might think an opinion survey is a rather trivial distraction given the magnitude of events that are unfolding. If so, let me say that our partners in Kyiv were pleased to have the work and – most importantly – the chance to show the world something of what Ukrainians are thinking and feeling as they defend their country. These are the main findings:

Ukrainians want to stay and fight.

Only 11% of Ukrainians agreed “if I could leave Ukraine safely tomorrow for another country I would.” Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) strongly disagreed. Only 1 in 20 (5%) of those aged 65 or over said they would leave if they could.

Indeed, 67% said they would be willing to take up arms to defend the country against Russian troops, with a further 7% saying they were already doing so. 85% of men and 63% of women said they had already taken up arms or were willing to do so.

This is despite 40% saying they felt unsafe during the day – rising to 56% in the east of the country – and 57% at night, rising to 70% in the east.

93% said they were willing to help Ukrainian troops in other ways, such as providing shelter, food or clothing, or were already doing so.

92% said they had a favourable view of President Zelensky, including 66% whose view was very favourable.

 Most Ukrainians think sanctions will be effective – but they want more help.

Just over two thirds (68%) said they thought the package of economic sanctions imposed against Russia would be effective in bringing an end to the war.

However, less than a quarter (23%) said they thought NATO was doing enough to help Ukraine, 44% thought the US was doing enough, and 46% thought the EU was doing enough. However, a majority (53%) said they thought the UK was doing enough to help. By sharp contrast, only 8% said the same of China.

60% said they would feel safer if they knew Ukraine had nuclear weapons.

Ukrainians do not expect a long war.

More than half (56%) of Ukrainians said they expected the conflict to be over by the end of March, with a further 14% expecting it to last up to three months. Fewer than one in ten (9%) said they thought it would last longer than six months. Women and younger people were more optimistic about an early end to military action.

Ukrainians want to join NATO – but Crimea is a bigger red line.

Nearly 9 in 10 Ukrainians (86%) said they wanted to see Ukraine join NATO, including two thirds (65%) who felt strongly that this should happen.

Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) said they would be unwilling to accept a ban on Ukrainian membership of NATO in return for a guaranteed immediate end to the war. Almost as many (61%) said NATO scaling back their troops and weapons in countries bordering Russia would also be an unacceptable condition for ending the conflict.

However, even more – nearly 8 in 10 (78%) – said they would be unwilling to accept official recognition of Crimea as part of Russia as the price for ending the war.

No part of Ukraine is part of Russia – but Ukrainians don’t see Russians as the enemy.

98% of Ukrainians – including 82% of those of Russian ethnicity – said they did not believe that any part of Ukraine was rightfully part of Russia.

While 97% had an unfavourable view of President Putin and 94% had an unfavourable view of the Russian military (including only 82% saying “very unfavourable”; 12% generously said their view of Russian forces was only “somewhat unfavourable”), Ukrainians see Russians themselves in a slightly different light.

Only 62% said they had a very unfavourable view of the Russian people, with a further 19% saying it was somewhat unfavourable. 14% they had a somewhat or very favourable view of the Russian people.

Nearly two thirds (65%) agreed that “despite our differences there is more that unites ethnic Russians living in Ukraine and Ukrainians than divides us.” 88% of respondents of Russian ethnicity agreed.

Ukrainians consider their future to be closer to Europe.

Nearly 19 in 20 Ukrainians (93%) said they considered their country’s future to be closer to Europe than to Russia. This included 78% of respondents of Russian ethnicity, and 84% of those in the east of the country closest to the Russian border.


1,040 adults in Ukraine were interviewed by telephone between 1 and 3 March 2022. Results have been weighted to be representative of all adults in Ukraine.


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