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Half of Ukrainians would agree to normalization of relations if Russia returned Crimea and Donbas – research

Kyiv, March 17, 2017.

Opinion poll reveals Ukrainians’ take on the prospects of the actual Ukraine-Russia relations.

Half of Ukrainians think that restoring relations with the Russian Federation is possible in the long-term perspective if the following conditions are met: authorities change in the Russian Federation, Donbas is de-occupied as well as the annexed Crimea is returned to Ukraine. Each fourth Ukraine citizen thinks that normalization will never happen. The data was presented by Iryna Bekeshkina, director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation during a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. At the same time there is no clear understanding what the Ukraine’s position towards Russia should be. “Thirty five per cent of respondents support the approach of limiting the contacts to the maximum and cutting all cooperation.  Twenty eight per cent expressed themselves in favor of preserving limited cooperation in critically important areas but to not compromise on Donbas and Crimea,” she said. Fifteen per cent support the idea of finding a compromise with the Russian Federation at any cost. “There is still a big number of people who continue supporting the Customs Union and the Russian vector. Thirteen to seventeen per cent of respondents across the country share the idea of the country joining the Customs Union, 20 per cent think Crimea should not be returned to Ukraine,” said Oleksii Haran, scientific director at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

However, the attitude of the majority of Ukrainians towards the Russian Federation is negative and keeps deteriorating. “These are not the season fluctuations but the deep changes in the society and in the social mentality, as well as in the mindset of people that will be affecting the nature of relations with the Russian Federation in the mid-term perspective,” said Mykhailo Pashkov, co-director of foreign policy and international security programs at the Razumkov Center. However, the very bottom stage has not yet been achieved in the bilateral relations. “Decrease of the trade turnover, conflict in economic and energy sectors as well as restrictive measures that relate to broadcasting of the Russian TV channels and printed media, information war will be further intensifying. The cyber warfare will continue, the action will be shifting towards international courts,” elaborated Pashkov.

Regardless of the fact that the Ukrainian society spoke out, the state policy is not following its position. “Strategic vision on the cooperation with the Russian Federation is missing. A huge drawback is the fact that the Russian Federation is still not being perceived and treated as aggressor. We are saying so, but it is not like that. There exist respective parliamentary provisions but they were never translated into a full-fledged document that would have an impact on our foreign policy,” said Oleksandr Samarskyi, deputy head of the Center for Russian Studies, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Iran in 2010-2014.

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