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Attitude towards Ukraine's accession to NATO and security guarantees

The press release was prepared by the Executive Director of KIIS, Anton Hrushetskyi


To prepare the press release, the results of the KIIS own survey were used (conducted during May 26-June 5, 2023 by the method of telephone interviews, a total of 1,029 interviews were conducted with adult residents of territories controlled by the Government of Ukraine, the error under normal circumstances does not exceed 3.4%) and the survey conducted by KIIS on the order of NDI[1](conducted during May 10-21, 2023 by the method of telephone interviews, a total of 2,509 interviews were conducted with adult residents of territories under the control of the Government of Ukraine, the error under normal circumstances does not exceed 2.4%).



Brief historical context: attitudes to joining NATO ahead of the 2022 large-scale invasion


If in the case of accession to the EU, since the 1990s, a constant trend of increasing support for European integration has been observed, then in the case of NATO, the situation changed much more slowly. On the eve of the Revolution of Dignity, the level of support for joining NATO fluctuated between only 15-20%. Accession to NATO was not part of the demands of the protesters during the Revolution of Dignity, and support for accession to NATO did not change significantly before the end of the Revolution of Dignity.

However, the occupation of Crimea and Russia's initiation of the war in Donbass (along with an attempt to destabilize other regions) influenced a sharp increase in support for joining NATO. However, despite the significant increase in support for joining NATO, as of 2021, in the event of a referendum, 48% would support joining and 24% would vote against joining. At the same time, there was a significant regional difference with a much more skeptical attitude in the South and East.

Support for joining NATO in 2023 Support for joining NATO in 2023


Now 89% of Ukrainians want to see Ukraine as part of NATO, and in all regions the absolute majority supports such a step: from 79% in the East to 93% in the West[2]. That is, at present society has finally consolidated on this issue and shows a unified view.


Graph 1. By 2030, would you like Ukraine to be...



Readiness to "sacrifice" joining NATO as the price of establishing peace


Herewith for only 18% it will be acceptable to refuse to join NATO in order to establish peace, and for 76% this price is unacceptable. In the regional dimension, we also see a consensus view: from 67% in the East to 81% in the West, consider such a concession unacceptable for the establishment of peace.


Graph 2. How acceptable or unacceptable do you think each of the options is as a price for establishing peace?

Ukraine abandons its stated goal of joining NATO



"Security guarantees" or joining NATO


Since March 2022, the issue of obtaining security guarantees by Ukraine has been actively discussed, and since March 2022 it was about replacing full NATO membership with "security guarantees". In May 2022, for the first time, we asked the question whether it would be acceptable to receive "security guarantees" instead of joining NATO, or whether only joining NATO would be able to ensure Ukraine's necessary security.

In May 2022, opinions were almost equally divided: 39% insisted on only joining NATO, and 42% considered it acceptable to receive "security guarantees" instead. By May 2023, public opinion has changed significantly - the share of those who insist on NATO membership has increased to 58%. At the same time, the share of those for whom "security guarantees" would be acceptable decreased to 29%. Separately, we note that in all regions those who insist on joining NATO prevail.


Graph 3. Now the issue of possible ways to ensure the security of Ukraine is being discussed. With which of these statements do you agree to a greater extent?


A. Hrushetskyi, comments on the survey results:


It is important to emphasize once again that it was not the desire of Ukrainians to join NATO that "provoked" Russia, but rather Russian aggression became a catalyst for public support for Euro-Atlantic integration. At the same time, the longer the war lasts, the more Ukrainians insist on full membership in NATO, and the "security guarantees" from other states look less convincing.

At the same time, we should pay attention to the fact that the rhetoric of Ukraine's Western partners regarding "security guarantees" as an alternative to joining NATO (including in the context of "postponing" joining to the future) is perceived skeptically by Ukrainians as based on historical experience (Budapest Memorandum ), and in view of the actual volume and speed of Western support for Ukraine after the large-scale invasion. Although the absolute majority of Ukrainians consider the war against aggressive Russia as joint with the Western allies and are grateful for the powerful assistance provided, at the same time, the amount of this assistance is not perceived as sufficient for the complete expulsion of the enemy (and ensuring the security of Ukraine).

Perhaps the West's provision of convincing transparent guarantees with specific implementation mechanisms will increase confidence in the "security guarantees". However, currently Ukrainians believe only in full membership.


[1] All results can be found here:

Ukraine's support for NATO and the demand for inclusive democracy reach record high levels //

[2] Region is determined by where the respondent lived before February 24, i.e. IDPs who, for example, lived in the Donetsk oblast before February 24, but now live in another oblast, are considered residents of the East for analysis.

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