Monday, December 10, 2018

Most Ukrainians Oppose Special Status for Donbass But Some Ready to Offer Some Autonomy, New Poll Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 10 – The majority of Ukrainians remain against giving special status to the Donbass as Moscow demands but over the last year, an ever larger share are prepared to consider expanding autonomy for the region along with others, something the Donbass once brought back under Ukrainian control would presumably benefit from as well.

            That is the finding of a new poll by Berlin’s Center for East European and International Studies ( and reported by Deutsche Welle (исследование-большинство-украинцев-отвергают-идею-особого-статуса-донбасса/a-46621373).

            According to the poll, the share of Ukrainians favoring a return to the status quo ante as far as the center’s control over the Donbass is concerned fell from 59 percent last year to 53 percent this, while the share backing more autonomy to the region once it is back under Ukrainian control rose from 3.9 percent to 6.6 percent.

            Last year, the Berlin center found, only 16 percent were ready to offer autonomy of any kind to the Donbass. This year, that figure had risen to 25 percent.

            Four other results of the poll are noteworthy:

·         The share of Ukrainians opposed to including the US in talks about the Donbass crisis rose from 15 percent a year ago to 25 percent this year, while 72 percent said that they supported the introduction of UN peacekeepers as a means of resolving the dispute with Russia. (That question was not asked in 2017.)

·         Ukrainians increasingly identify as members of a civic nation rather than an ethnic one. Last year, 37 percent said they were part of a civic nation; now 49 percent do. Over the same period those identifying primarily as ethnic Ukrainians fell from 46 percent to 36.9 percent.

·         The share of Ukrainians saying that Ukrainian is their native language fell from 67 percent last year to 58 percent this, with those identifying Russian as that language rising from 13 percent to 19 percent, reflecting more willingness to identify Russian in this way and also in response to government efforts to exclude Russian from many aspects of life.

·         Ever more Ukrainians say they have friends in the EU, 31 percent this year as opposed to 24 percent in 2017, a reflection of travel and also a statement in support of the idea that Ukraine is part of Europe and not part of Eurasia.

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