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Acceptability of refusing to join NATO in obtaining security guarantees from individual countries: results of a telephone survey conducted on 13-18 May 2022

Press release prepared by KIIS Deputy Director Anton Hrushetskyi


During May 13-18, 2022, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion poll "Omnibus". By the method of computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile telephone numbers (with random generation of telephone numbers and subsequent statistical weighing) were interviewed 2,000 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except AR of Crimea). The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 and older) citizens of Ukraine who at the time of the survey lived in Ukraine (within the limits controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were temporarily not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities until February 24, 2022 (AR of Crimea, Sevastopol, some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions), and the survey was not conducted with citizens who went abroad after February 24, 2022.

Formally, under normal circumstances, the statistical error of such a sample (with a probability of 0.95 and taking into account the design effect of 1.1) did not exceed 2.4% for indicators close to 50%, 2.1% for indicators close to 25%, 1.5% - for indicators close to 10%, 1.1% - for indicators close to 5%. Under the conditions of the war, in addition to this formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added, but the results obtained still remain highly representative and allow a fairly reliable analysis of public moods. Please see below for additional comments on the factors that influence the conduct of opinion polls in the military conditions.


The acceptability of refusing to join NATO in obtaining security guarantees from individual countries


In the last few months, negotiations with Russia have been widely discussing the possibility that Ukraine may refuse or postpone joining NATO, but will receive security guarantees from the world's leading nations. Respondents were asked to what extent Ukraine's refusal to join NATO would be acceptable in such conditions.

As can be seen, the opinions of Ukrainians were divided almost equally. Thus, 42% believe that in the current conditions it may be acceptable to receive security guarantees from NATO countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France and others. But at the same time, 39% continue to insist that only joining NATO will be able to ensure Ukraine's security and therefore cannot be abandoned.

At the same time, 19% of respondents either did not decide on their opinion or did not agree with any of these statements.


Graph 1. The issue of possible ways to ensure Ukraine's security is currently being discussed. Which of these statements do you agree with to the greatest extent?




Readiness to abandon NATO and obtain security guarantees is growing from West to East, from 35% to 50%. At the same time, from 46% to 25% there are fewer people who insist on the course of joining NATO.


Graph2. Security issues in the regional dimension




Graph 3 shows the data depending on where the respondent currently lives. Even among respondents living in the occupied territories right now, opinions are divided, and a large part is ready to accept the formula of abandoning NATO in exchange for guarantees, and a large part insists on joining NATO.


Graph3. Security issues depending on where the respondent currently lives



A. Hrushetskyi. Methodical comments on the representativeness of telephone surveys conducted during the war.

 Even before the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, there were a number of factors that negatively affected the representativeness of the polls (for example, the lack of a census for more than 20 years). Full-scale war, of course, greatly affects the representativeness and complicates the work of sociologists, but does not make it impossible. Access to reliable data on the state of mood in society remains relevant both for Ukrainians themselves and for our foreign partners (who, as events of the last 3 months have shown, often underestimated and misunderstood Ukraine and Ukrainians).

At the same time, in order to maintain objectivity, it is necessary to understand the limitations of the war on the conduct of opinion polls. First of all, we pay attention to large-scale population movements. Before the start of the field phase, according to the UN, it was estimated that about 6 million Ukrainians - adults and children - left Ukraine. There are no exact figures on how many of them are adults, but it is likely to be about half. Accordingly, among about 30 million adult citizens (estimated at the time of the full-scale invasion), about 10% have gone abroad, and it is not possible to provide a reliable survey of these citizens by telephone interviews. Even more citizens have become internally displaced persons, but they have a much lower impact on the quality of telephone surveys, as almost all of them have mobile phones and are eligible to participate in the survey (in fact, 15% of respondents are IDPs).

Another important issue is the reachability for surveying population of the territories occupied after February 24, 2022, due to the intensification of hostilities or telephone interruptions. Experience of conducting survey shows that most of the occupied territories have the technical ability to contact and interview residents (of course, if they feel safe). In total, 4% of respondents at the time of the interview lived in the occupied territories (and another 3% lived until February 24, 2022 in the settlements that were occupied, but left them for the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities). In the case of territories with active hostilities, they cover a small percentage of the total population of Ukraine (although we can not forget the tragic situation in which these people found themselves). In addition, a significant part of the population of the occupied territories and territories with hostilities, moved to safer places in the territory controlled by the authorities of Ukraine (or abroad). Accordingly, most likely, no more than 1-2% of the adult population of Ukraine are unreachable for the survey due to these factors.

In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness may have either a lower willingness to participate in polls of citizens with "pro-Russian" moods, or the insincerity of those who still took part in the poll (given the obvious facts and prevailing views in the media about the Russian invasion , some citizens "publicly" do not want to say what they really think). If we talk about the general willingness of respondents to participate in the survey, in recent surveys we see either the same indicators or slightly lower (although it should be borne in mind that lower willingness to participate in "pro-Russian" set up citizens may be offset by higher willingness to participate in "pro-Ukrainian" set up citizens).

We conducted a small methodological experiment, which shows that the citizens who are currently participating in the polls on demographic characteristics and meaningful moods are close to those who participated in the polls before February 24, 2022. Previously, we see some shift towards "pro-Ukrainian" set up citizens, which affects up to 4-6% deviations for separate questions (towards more frequent selection of answers that correspond to the "pro-Ukrainian" interpretation of events). In our opinion, this is a very optimistic indicator in the current conditions. However, this experiment does not answer how sincere the respondents are in their answers now.

Given our own observations and experience of conducting surveys over the years, we still remain optimistic that most respondents answer questions sincerely. In addition, we assume that the demographic categories of citizens who have gone abroad and are inaccessible for telephone interviews, at least now, do not differ significantly in a number of meaningful moods from similar demographic categories of citizens who remained in Ukraine.

As a result, in our opinion, we should talk about some decrease in representativeness and increase in error (in addition to the previously mentioned formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added due to the above factors), but the results still remain highly representative and allow to analyze public moods of  population.


Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire


The issue of possible ways to ensure Ukraine's security is currently being discussed. Which of these statements do you agree with to the greatest extent? RANDOMIZATION OF READING

 (% among all respondents)

100% in the column Region: where lived until February 24, 2022 Ukraine as a whole West[1] Center South East
This is quite acceptable if, instead of joining NATO, which may be blocked by some NATO members, Ukraine will have security guarantees from countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, etc. 42 35 43 42 50
Only joining NATO will be able to ensure Ukraine's security, so it cannot be abandoned 39 46 42 34 25


[1] The composition of macroregions is as follows: Western macroregion - Volyn, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Zakarpattia, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi regions; Central macroregion - Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Cherkasy, Kyiv regions, Kyiv city, Southern macroregion - Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Odesa regions, Eastern macroregion - Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions.

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