Less than a week after Vladimir Putin told President Biden that he would “really like” to continue to dialogue over Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border, Washington’s top diplomat for Europe is set to travel to Russia and Ukraine to engage in further talks. On their December 7 call, Biden told Putin that the U.S. was prepared to impose strong economic sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine. Representatives for both sides said top officials would continue to follow up on discussions, and on the ground, the situation remains tense.
To gain insight into sentiment in the region, Premise recently surveyed over 1,000 Ukrainian Contributors on how they felt about the ominous developments.
These results are based on a survey of 1,178 Ukrainians conducted from December 9, 2021 to December 11, 2021 via the Premise smartphone app. The results were then weighted according to the Ukrainian census to accurately represent the gender, age, and region of residence of the general population.
One of the key findings is that country-wide, less than a majority of all Ukrainians think a foreign invasion is likely (less than 41%). But the eastern regions of Ukraine, including two eastern Ukrainian provinces under control of Russia, think a foreign invasion is far less likely (by about a 20-point margin) than the western, more traditionally anti-Russian region does.
The survey also found that about three-fourths of all respondents thought the Biden-Putin phone call was productive. Again, the results showed a difference between eastern and western Ukraine on whether they were hopeful a resolution to the problem would be found: By a two-to-one margin, 32%–16%, eastern Ukrainians expressed greater hope than western Ukrainians.
Survey respondents gave answers on questions concerning the threat of a foreign invasion to Ukraine, which countries would come to their aid in such an invasion, President Biden’s recent telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and more.
Here are some of the most significant findings:
- 38.6% of Ukrainians think it’s either very unlikely or somewhat unlikely that Ukraine would be invaded by a foreign country in the next three months, and 40.9% felt it was somewhat or very likely.
- This sentiment changed significantly when examined by geographic region. In Eastern Ukraine, nearly half (49.1%) felt a foreign invasion was somewhat or very unlikely (as opposed to only 29.3% thinking it was somewhat or very likely). In Western Ukraine, the results were flipped, with less than a quarter of respondents (24.1%) thinking an invasion was unlikely and 52% thinking it was likely.
- When asked whether or not they thought President Biden’s recent phone call with President Putin, which specifically discussed Ukraine, was productive, an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (75.3%) felt it was either somewhat or very productive with only 24.8% feeling it was either somewhat or very unproductive.
- When asked whether President Biden’s recent phone call with President Putin made respondents more or less hopeful that the situation in Ukraine would be resolved, 32.3% were somewhat or much more hopeful, only 16.2% were somewhat or much less hopeful, with the remainder ambivalent.
- Those percentages tracked with respondents in Eastern Ukraine, where 29.3% of respondents were somewhat or much more hopeful, 15.7% were somewhat or much less hopeful, with the remainder ambivalent. In Western Ukraine, however, respondents were more optimistic with 40.6% somewhat or much more hopeful the situation would be resolved and only 12.5% somewhat or much less hopeful.
“While there is clearly concern about an invasion, our survey results suggest this may be seen as a bigger deal in Washington, D.C. than in Ukraine itself,” said Maury Blackman, CEO of Premise. “Additionally, our geographic breakdown shows that eastern Ukraine, which would in theory be the front lines of an invasion from Russia, is less concerned about such an invasion than those residents of western Ukraine. This is likely due to eastern Ukraine’s historic, cultural ties to Russia.”
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