Ukrainians Are Split on How Much Good the U.S. Is Doing

They’re bigger fans of the European Union, though.

A Ukrainian student waves his national flag during a pro-unity rally in the eastern city of Lugansk on April 17.
National Journal
Marina Koren
May 8, 2014, 6:07 a.m.

In the last few months, the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity has ban­ded to­geth­er in sup­port of Ukraine dur­ing its stan­doff with Rus­sia.

Ukraine, however, is a little wary about all that West­ern in­flu­ence.

Nearly four in 10 Ukrain­i­ans, about 38 per­cent, give the United States pos­it­ive re­views for its role in their coun­try — the same as the per­cent­age of people who give the U.S. bad re­views, ac­cord­ing to a new Pew Re­search sur­vey.

Ukraine’s out­look on the U.S. has im­proved in re­cent years, though. In 2009, just 24 per­cent of Ukrain­i­ans gave a pos­it­ive eval­u­ation of the United States.

West­ern Ukrain­i­ans are much more pos­it­ive to­ward the U.S. (68 per­cent) than East­ern Ukrain­i­ans (17 per­cent). In Crimea, a whop­ping 88 per­cent of people sur­veyed say the U.S. is hav­ing a neg­at­ive in­flu­ence on the crisis. This isn’t sur­pris­ing, though, giv­en that closer prox­im­ity to Rus­sia — and stronger cul­tur­al and lan­guage ties to that coun­try — tend to cor­res­pond with an in­creased dis­trust of Amer­ic­ans.

The Ukrain­i­an view of the European Uni­on is a little ro­si­er. Forty-five per­cent say the E.U. is hav­ing a pos­it­ive in­flu­ence on Ukraine, 5 per­cent high­er than in 2009. But the per­cent­age of people who don’t ap­prove of the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s im­pact has ris­en from 15 per­cent in 2009 to 33 per­cent today. The West-East di­vide holds for the E.U. as well, with 74 per­cent in the West giv­ing pos­it­ive re­views of its in­flu­ence and 24 per­cent in the East giv­ing neg­at­ive ones.

The res­ults come from a sur­vey of 1,659 adults, 18 years of age or older, in Ukraine, con­duc­ted between April 5 and April 23, after Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion in Crimea and be­fore the re­cent vi­ol­ence in Odessa. The mar­gin of er­ror is plus or minus 3 per­cent­age points.

The U.S. has been the lead­ing skep­tic of Rus­si­an motives dur­ing the Ukraine crisis, and it was the first to an­nounce sanc­tions against Rus­sia. While European coun­tries have quickly fol­lowed in Wash­ing­ton’s steps, they have done so with con­sid­er­ably less fan­fare, care­ful to not an­ger Rus­sia, on whom they de­pend heav­ily for en­ergy ex­ports.

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