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How Ukrainians see relations between Ukraine and Russia: the results of a telephone survey conducted on July 6-20, 2022
The press release was prepared by Anton Hrushetskyi, the Deputy Director of KIIS
From July 6 to 20, 2022, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) conducted its own all-Ukrainian public opinion survey "Omnibus". By the method of computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 2,000 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except AR of Crimea) were interviewed. The survey was conducted with adult (aged 18 and older) citizens of Ukraine who, at the time of the survey, lived on the territory of Ukraine (within the boundaries controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022). The sample did not include residents of territories that were not temporarily controlled by the authorities of Ukraine until February 24, 2022 (AR of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts), and the survey was not conducted with citizens who left the country 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 conditions of war, in addition to the specified formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added. In particular, if back in May, among all the respondents we interviewed, 2.5-4% lived in the territories occupied after February 24 (and this corresponded to the percentage of those who live there, because the generation of phone numbers was random), now due to the occupiers turning off telephone communication we managed to interview fewer respondents living in occupied settlements, in particular, their number is 0.2%. It is important to note that although the views of the respondents who lived in the occupation were somewhat different, the general tendencies were quite similar. That is, the impossibility of interviewing such respondents does not significantly affect the quality of the results. There are other factors that can affect the quality of results in "wartime" conditions (see Annex 2).
In general, we believe that the obtained results are still highly representative and allow a fairly reliable analysis of public moods of the population.
What kind of relations with Russia do Ukrainians want
The absolute majority of Ukrainians - 79% - believe that the borders should be closed between Ukraine and Russia with visas and customs. Only 11% believe that Ukraine and Russia should be independent but friendly states with open borders without visas and customs. Also, only 1% of respondents are in favor of uniting into one state.
Compared to the period before the full-scale invasion (as of February 2022), the share of those who believe that the borders should be closed between Ukraine and Russia with visas and customs has increased from 44% to 79%. On the other hand, from 48% to 11%, those who advocate "friendly" relations between the countries have decreased. Also, from 5% to 1%, the share of those who support unification into one state has decreased.
Graph1. How would you like to see Ukraine's relations with Russia?
Graph 2 shows the data in the regional section and compares it with the results before a full-scale invasion as of mid-February 2022. First, in all regions the vast majority (from 86% in the West to 70% in the East) believe that the borders with visas and customs should be closed between Ukraine and Russia. Secondly, in all regions, compared to February, the share of those who support closed borders has increased significantly. In particular, if the majority in the South and East supported "friendly" relations back in February, now the vast majority believes that there should be visas and customs between Ukraine and Russia.
Graph2. Relations between Ukraine and Russia in a regional section
Graph 3 shows the results in terms of linguistic and ethnic categories of the population of Ukraine. As can be seen, the majority among all categories are in favor of closed borders with visas and customs between Ukraine and Russia. Even among Russian-speaking Russians, 52% are in favor of closed borders, and 35% are in favor of "friendly" relations (and only 3% say that Ukraine and Russia should unite into one state).
Graph 3. Relations between Ukraine and Russia in the regional section among linguistic and ethnic categories of the population
A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:
The results of the latest sociological researches show that in various aspects Ukrainians are finally saying goodbye to the Russian Empire. In the case of desirable relations with Russia, Ukrainians went through conditional three stages: first, in the period up to 2013, that is, before the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity, the share of those who sought the unification of Ukraine and Russia into one state definitely decreased. In April 2008, there were 20% of them, and in November 2013 - only 9%. However, the share of those who advocated "closed" borders remained unchanged at the level of 10-12%, i.e. some Ukrainians switched from the idea of "unification" to the idea of "friendly relations".
Since 2014, the idea of "unification" was finally marginalized and kept at the level of 5-6%. Instead, the idea of "closed" borders gained more weight, which, however, had 40-45% support by February 2022 and prevailed only in the West, while in the South and East the opinion that the states should be "friendly" continued to prevail without visas and customs (in general, there were 45-50%of them in Ukraine). It is also possible that it is not a matter of "friendly" relations, but the fact that many Ukrainians have relatives in Russia and would like to leave the potential opportunity to see them without obstacles in the form of visas and customs. So, according to our November 2021 survey, 43% of Ukrainians answered that they have close relatives in Russia (another 14% answered that they have relatives in Russia, but they do not consider them close). The share of respondents who have such relatives increases from 33% in the West to 53% in the East (https://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=ukr&cat=reports&id=1078)
After February 2022, the aggressiveness of the Russian leadership and "ordinary" Russians, together with the atrocities of the Russian army, buried the idea of "friendly" and "comfortable" relations. Not only at the level of Ukraine as a whole, the absolute majority considers visas and customs with Russians necessary, but also in all regions this opinion absolutely prevails. Regardless of region or language, Ukrainians seek to isolate themselves from Russia.
Annex 1. Formulation of questions from the questionnaire
How would you like to see Ukraine's relations with Russia?
(% among all respondents)
Distribution by regions, July 2022, %
(% among all respondents)
Annex 2. Methodological 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 absence of a census for more than 20 years). A full-scale war, of course, greatly affects representativeness and complicates the work of sociologists, but does not make it impossible. Access to reliable data on the state of public moods remains relevant both for Ukrainians themselves and for our foreign partners (who, as the events of the past 5 months have shown, often underestimated and did not understand Ukraine and Ukrainians).
At the same time, in order to maintain objectivity, it is necessary to understand what limitations the war imposes on the conduct of sociological surveys. First of all, we pay attention to large-scale population movements. At the beginning of July, EU representatives estimated that 3.2-3.7 million Ukrainians - adults and children - are currently in these countries. There is no exact data on how many of them are adult citizens, but, most likely, it is about half. In addition, some Ukrainians left for other countries, except for the EU. In particular, a significant number of Ukrainians were forcibly deported to Russia and Belarus (according to some estimates, about 1 million). Among the approximately 30 million adult citizens (estimated at the time of the full-scale invasion), it can be roughly estimated that about 10% have left the country, and the method of telephone interviews cannot provide a reliable survey of these citizens. Even more citizens have become internally displaced persons, but they have a much smaller impact on the quality of telephone surveys, since almost all of these citizens have mobile phones and are reachable to participate in the survey (in fact, 14% of the respondents of this survey are IDPs).
Another important issue is the accessibility for the survey of the population of the territories that were occupied after February 24, 2022, due to the conduct of intensive military operations or due to interruptions in telephone communication. Now there is practically no connection. In May, 2.5-4% of respondents lived in these territories, now in the sample of residents of these territories - 0.2%. But it should be taken into account that a significant part of the population continues to leave these territories, therefore, most likely, no more than 1.5-2.5% of the total adult population of Ukraine are inaccessible due to communication problems.
In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness can have either a generally lower willingness of citizens with "pro-Russian" moods to participate in surveys, or the insincerity of those who did take part in the survey (given the obvious facts and prevailing opinions in the media regarding the Russian invasion , some citizens will not want to say what they really think "in public"). If to talk about the general willingness of respondents to participate in the survey, then in recent surveys we see either the same indicators or slightly lower (although it should be borne in mind that the lower willingness to participate of "pro-Russian"-minded citizens can be compensated by the higher willingness to participate of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens).
We conducted a small methodological experiment in May, which shows that the citizens who are currently participating in the polls in terms of demographic characteristics and meaningful moods are close to those who participated in the polls until February 24, 2022. Preliminarily, we see some shift in the direction of "pro-Ukrainian"-minded citizens, which is reflected in up to 4-6% deviations for individual questions (in the direction of more frequent selection of answers that correspond to the "pro-Ukrainian" interpretation of events). In our opinion, this is a rather optimistic indicator in the current conditions. However, this experiment does not give an answer as to how sincere the respondents are now in their answers.
Taking into account our own observations and the experience of conducting surveys over many years, we still remain optimistic that, for the most part, respondents answer the questions sincerely. For example, the "imagined acquaintance" experiment shows little difference with the direct question. In addition, we assume that the demographic categories of citizens who have gone abroad and are unreachable for a telephone survey, at least now, do not differ very significantly in terms of a number of meaningful moods from similar demographic categories of citizens who have remained in Ukraine.
As a result, in our opinion, we should talk about a certain decrease in representativeness and an increase in error (in addition to the previously mentioned formal error, a certain systematic deviation is added due to the factors considered above), but at the same time, the obtained results still retain high representativeness and allow for a fairly reliable analysis of public moods of the population.
 The composition of the macroregions is as follows: Western macroregion – Volyn, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Zakarpattia, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi oblasts; Central macroregion - Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Cherkasy, Kyiv oblasts, Kyiv city, Southern macroregion - Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Odesa oblasts, Eastern macroregion - Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.