13.06.23 Review

Borders of Peace: Only 10% of Ukrainians are prepared to settle for 'peace in exchange for territory', but around 30% might consider a return to February 2022 demarcation lines, surveys show

Recent polls have revealed that an overwhelming 84% of Ukrainians reject the possibility of making any territorial concessions to Russia for the sake of peace. However, another survey indicates that approximately 30% of Ukrainians are willing to consider a return to the demarcation lines of February 2022 as a condition for a peace agreement. Additionally, 35% hold a negative view of all Russians without exception and believe that future reconciliation between the countries will remain impossible. Conversely, almost half of those surveyed maintain a position of 'selective hostility,' which excludes Russian opponents of the war or even those who are not supporters of it. Further, 42% of Ukrainians have relatives in Russia and Belarus, with half of them having severed ties and ended relationships. Only 23% of those surveyed categorically reject the participation of Ukrainian athletes and artists in joint events with Russians.

The poll conducted by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology in late May shows that 84% of Ukrainians are firmly against any territorial concessions to Russia for the sake of peace. This sentiment is shared by 75% of the population in eastern Ukraine (a slight increase compared to figures from May 2022), 86% in western Ukraine, and 80% of Russian speakers. Only 10% of respondents hold the opposing viewpoint. However, it should be noted that the wording of the survey does not specify whether these territorial concessions refer to areas annexed or controlled by Russia before February 2022.

Moreover, data from a May survey conducted by the Razumkov Centre has revealed that 64% of respondents do not support 'direct negotiations with Russia to achieve peace.' Approximately a quarter of the respondents (23%) would support such a turn of events, while 13% were unsure how to answer. The fact that the first position ('No negotiations until troops are withdrawn') is both dominant and aligns with the official position suggests that at least some of the respondents who were unsure sought to distance themselves from it. Approximately 67% reject a peace agreement based on a return to the de facto control lines of February 24, 2022, favouring a return to the legitimate borders of 1991, while 17% might be willing to consider such a compromise, and 16% were unsure. Thus, the officially declared position of Kyiv regarding negotiations and the impossibility of territorial concessions is shared by two-thirds of Ukraine's population. In addition, if we compare the two surveys we can deduce that approximately (slightly less than) 30% are willing to consider a peace scenario on the condition of returning to the February 2022 demarcation lines.

36% of Ukrainians polled by the Razumkov Centre believe that reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine is fundamentally impossible even after the war, while another 32% think that reconciliation should not be expected within the lifetime of the current generation. In total, 68% do not foresee the possibility of reconciliation in the future. The rest believe that reconciliation is possible under certain conditions, such as the trial of war criminals (12%) or Russia showing remorse (5%). Only 4% would be ready for reconciliation immediately after the end of the war. Among respondents aged 30-49, 74% do not see possible conditions for reconciliation, while among those over 60 years old, this figure stands at 62%.

Regarding attitudes towards Russian citizens, 35% of respondents express a negative view towards all Russians without exception. Another 26% hold negative views towards all Russians except those who ‘actively oppose the war and the Kremlin’, while an additional 23% only have a negative attitude towards the war’s supporters. Generally speaking, approximately half of Ukrainians (49%) have adopted a stance of 'selective hostility' towards Russians. Further, 9% express a negative attitude 'only towards Putin and other representatives of the Russian government.' This distribution appears more restrained and tolerant towards the aggressor country than the prevailing sentiment among social media activists. At the same time, just over a third of Ukrainians hold the position of 'collective responsibility,' indiscriminately holding Russian citizens accountable for the full-scale invasion.

The Ukrainians surveyed demonstrate a relatively tolerant attitude towards the participation of Ukrainian athletes, artists, and performers in joint events with their Russian counterparts. Only 23% believe that Ukrainians should automatically refuse to participate in such events. 17% think that they should only refuse if the event is organised by Russians. 14% believe that a condition for participation should be condemnation of the war by the Russians involved in the event. Another 14% say that a refusal to attend such events is not necessary, while 18% believe that the decision should be made by the participants themselves.

According to the Razumkov Centre's survey, 42% of respondents have relatives in Russia and Belarus. Of this group, 20% (almost half of those with relatives) have severed ties and ended these relationships. Another 14% of respondents (about a third of those with relatives in Russia and Belarus) have continued communication but avoid discussing politics. Only 7% of respondents (approximately 15% of those with relatives in Russia and Belarus) have relatives in Russia and Belarus who take a pro-Ukrainian stance, while 1% share the anti-Ukrainian positions of their relatives in these countries.