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27 January 2022

How Ukrainians turned against Russia

Favourability towards their neighbours has dropped from 84 per cent in 2011 to just 32 per cent.

By Ben Walker

Ukrainians have not always been anxious about their Russian neighbours. The countries had good relations in the early 2000s and up to 80 per cent of Ukrainians held a favourable view of Russia. As many as 56 per cent regarded Vladimir Putin’s performance on the world stage favourably.

Attitudes have hardened significantly in the years since the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the occupation of much of Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, by pro-Russian separatists. Favourability towards Russia among Ukrainians collapsed from 84 per cent in 2011 to 35 per cent in 2014. By 2019, the last year for which data was available, that number was still 32 per cent.

Ukrainian public opinion has hardened against Putin and Russia
Attitudes in Ukraine to Russia and Vladimir Putin — data from the Pew Research Centre

Confidence in Putin as a capable world leader fell from 56 per cent in 2007 to 23 per cent in 2014, then to 11 per cent by 2019.

That means that Russia's standing among Ukrainians has been stubbornly poor for almost a decade.

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