How War Changed the Perception of Ukraine's Allies

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Following Russia's invasion, nearly no Ukrainians remained indifferent to foreign policy and building relations with other countries.

The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, commissioned by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, conducted a nationwide survey in February 2023. This time, unlike in 2021, respondents had an opportunity to name up to five countries currently considered the biggest Ukraine allies without limiting the choice.

The number of Ukrainians who found it difficult to determine at least one ally state fell by more than three times (almost 12% in 2021).

Read more about Ukraine's allies based on a nationwide survey in the article by the executive director of the Ilko Kucheriv Foundation "Democratic Initiatives" Petro Burkovsky From France's record to Georgia's failure: who Ukrainians consider key allies in war (Ukr).

Before the full-scale invasion, Ukrainians would call "friendly" six leaders among foreign countries: the USA (28%), Poland (26%), Germany (23%), Belarus (21%), followed by Lithuania and Georgia, with 14% each.

The list of the leaders after a year of the war has changed not only quantitatively but also qualitatively.

Poland took first place with an incredible 84% support, followed closely by the USA with 79%.

Ukrainians see Warsaw and Washington, like in 2021, as the main allies. However, they have tripled their soft influence on Ukrainian society.

The role of leaders is also important for Ukrainians toward allied states.

Thus, the names of Andrzej Duda and Joe Biden were heard most often in focus groups. Ukrainians practically identified them with the countries they lead.

There is reason to believe that thanks to the personal role of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the massive armed assistance ahead of the full-scale invasion and after it, the UK takes third place among the biggest allies of Ukraine with 62%. A maximum of 7% of respondents mentioned the UK in 2021.

Ukrainians see Germany in fourth place - 41% of respondents.

Finally, three countries with similar indicators took the fifth, sixth and seventh places: Lithuania - 24%, France - 22%, and Latvia - 21.5%.

So, Paris has made a leap and now is sixth, having almost twice as fewer votes as Germany.

The belief in the friendship of France was six times less than the number of German colleagues before the full-scale invasion! In 2021, barely 4% of respondents called it Ukraine's ally.

However, Paris should think about contributing to the defence and support of Ukraine to keep this pace.

But let's return to the top three.

For a reason, Poland, the USA, and the UK top this rating - Ukrainians often perceive them as a union.

Of those who, in addition to Poland, also named Lithuania and Latvia as their top five allies, more than 90% also mentioned Estonia. In fact, it is about consolidating the idea of the importance of multilateral security cooperation in the Baltic-Black Sea region, using the example of solidarity in the fight against the common Russian threat.

An interesting detail is that 85% of respondents who named Germany also picked the USA, and only 38% picked France.

And finally, a few words about disappointing countries for Ukrainians.

Compared to 2021, Georgia has lost the most: it went down from 13.5% to 0.5%.

Among those who lost the trust of Ukrainians as an ally, there is also Hungary, which previously had a low rating of 2.6%. It has additionally decreased by 3-4 times now. It is also about the attitude to the leaders and authorities of these countries. The policies of Orban and the Garibashvili government led to a crisis in relations with Ukraine.

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