Major divisions emerging over ongoing war in Ukraine – report

By Martin Banks

Ukrainians are not yet ready to countenance territorial trade-offs for NATO accession.

This is one of the key findings of a major new multi-country polling report out on 3 July.

It says there is still sustained public support for the delivery of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, but shows divisions on how the war will end – and the purpose of European aid.

It is published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), just ahead of the 2024 NATO Summit.

It suggests NATO leaders are unlikely to find domestic backing for troop deployments or increases in defence spending to assist the war effort.

Following the dramatic delay of a critical US support package for Ukraine earlier this year, a political shift in Europe towards populist parties of the far-right, and the recent intensification of Russian military attacks against critical infrastructure in Ukraine, the report found that there has been no discernible collapse of morale in Ukraine or change in support for the Ukrainian war effort among its European allies.

It reveals, almost two and half years into Russia’s invasion of the country, that a majority of Ukrainians (58%) believe they can secure a battlefield victory, and that confidence in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, remains high. However, there are major divisions in Ukraine when it comes to prospective trade-offs that could bring an end to the conflict.

The study’s authors and foreign policy experts, Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard, believe looming divergences of opinion between European and Ukrainian publics could make finding agreement on how the war should end extremely challenging – and have significant impacts on Kyiv’s pathway to NATO and EU accession.

Leonard, co-author and founding director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told this site: “Our new polling suggests that one of the key challenges for Western leaders will be reconciling the conflicting positions between Europeans and Ukrainians on how the war will end. While both groups recognise the need for continued military provision, to help Ukraine push back at Russian aggression, there is a profound gulf around what constitutes a victory – and what the purpose of Europe’s support actually is.

“While Europeans predominantly see a negotiated settlement as the most likely outcome, Ukrainians are not yet ready to countenance territorial trade-offs for NATO accession, nor engage with the idea of ‘Finlandization’, in which they would keep their territory but forgo their EU and NATO ambitions.”

The report is based on a public opinion poll of adult populations (aged 18 and over) conducted in May 2024 in 15 countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine). The total number of respondents was 19,566.

The poll was conducted online by Datapraxis and YouGov in the Czech Republic (9-16 May, 1,071 respondents), France (9-20 May, 1,502),Germany (9-17 May, 2,026), Great Britain (9-13 May, 2,082), Greece (1-16 May, 1,093), Italy (9-17 May, 1,036), Poland (9-23 May, 1,550), Portugal (9-20 May, 1,070), the Netherlands (9-15 May, 1,014), Spain (9-17 May, 1,508), Sweden (9-23 May, 1,026), and Switzerland (2-15 May, 1,079).


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