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Virtual Bridge Wrocław – Lviv 2

Nataliya Chernysh

PhD in Sociological Sciences, professor of the Department of Sociology

Historical Faculty of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv

Vice-president of the Sociological Association of Ukraine

Fulbright Program Scholar

First of all, I would like to thank our colleagues from the University of Wrocław for their prompt publication of the information I have gathered about the situation in Ukraine and our cooperation. I hope that the publication of regular bulletins on this subject, which has been initiated, will be continued by me and by other colleagues at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. Already now we can announce the preparation of further bulletins; our next contributor is Yuriy Pachkovskyy, PhD, professor, Head of the Department of Sociology at the Lviv National University, who is preparing a general overview of events in Ukraine from the point of view of a sociologist and humanist. In addition, our doctoral students are currently conducting a survey of internally displaced persons from all regions of Ukraine who travel abroad through Lviv. When we gather this information, we will be able to present it to a wider audience in the next newsletter.

I wrote my first material from the perspective of a professional sociologist. Now I would like to present new data from sociological research relating to the current situation in Ukraine, which was conducted both in the country and abroad, and my reflections on it. First of all, it is worth presenting the opinions of Ukrainians regarding their assessment of the situation in the country, which they expressed during a survey conducted by one of the leading sociological centres of Ukraine – Rating Group Ukraine. The research was conducted on 8–9 March 2022 [1]. The activity of this agency is extremely important for Ukrainian sociologists, as it enables them to conduct systematic and regular interviews during the war with Russia (I would like to draw the readers’ attention to the fact that in the Ukrainian mass media the word “Russia”, as well as “Putin”, is now written with a lowercase letter, which proves the lack of respect for this country and its leader among the Ukrainian population, resulting from the aftermath of the war experience).

Recent polls show that Ukrainians remain supportive even after two difficult weeks of war: 91% of respondents feel hopeful when thinking about the situation in the country. Only 6% feel helpless. In all regions of Ukraine (west, east, south, north and centre) maximum percentages of their inhabitants feel hope. As many as 92% of respondents believe that Ukraine will be able to repel a Russian attack. Practically every day this indicator increases. Currently, only 6% of respondents are not convinced. Belief in victory prevails throughout the country. More than 80% of respondents declared that they are helping in various ways to defend Ukraine: 39% of respondents are currently helping people and the army as volunteers, 37% are supporting financially. In addition, 18% take part in the information war and 12% continue to work on critical infrastructure facilities. 10% of Ukrainians said they are involved in territorial defence. Only 19% answered that they could not help the country now. These are most elderly people. 42% believe that there can be no renewal of friendly relations between Ukrainians and Russians. 22% are convinced that this will be possible within 20–30 years after the war, 18% – within 10–15 years, and only 12% maintain that the renewal of friendship is possible within a few years after the war.

For people who now live in Ukraine, these figures are obvious and unquestionable, because we see with our own eyes the developments, we hear the words of our defenders, we feel pride in Ukraine and we hope that we will not only survive, but we will certainly prevail. I therefore believe that the sociological data I have presented provide an argument in support of my thesis that Ukraine is becoming a modern political nation in which ethnic factors are rapidly receding into the background. Never in my life have I seen such unity and consolidation of the whole of Ukrainian society around our president, who has become the spiritual leader of the nation. My other point is that Ukrainians clearly understand how great a role our foreign partners play in achieving victory over the Putin regime. The Ukrainian people are grateful to all those who have given them a helping hand.

These are the opinions of respondents from a few days ago on this subject. They were expressed in a poll conducted by “Rating”. The poll was entitled: “Evaluation of international support for Ukraine” [2]. In general, Ukrainians consider diplomatic (48%) and humanitarian (47%) support for Ukraine from foreign partners as relatively sufficient. Respondents indicate several types of international support. Military assistance to Ukraine is the type of international support that Ukrainians most expect (63%). Within the framework of this type of assistance, respondents primarily demand ‘closing the sky’ (89%) and provision of armaments (47%). In addition, a quarter of the respondents believe that it is necessary to provide military medical assistance and the assistance of foreign volunteers, and one in five respondents considers it necessary to provide assistance in the form of equipment such as radios, thermal imaging devices, bulletproof vests, helmets, etc. International financial support is considered insufficient (sufficient – 39%, insufficient – 45%) and economic sanctions against Russia (sufficient – 32%, insufficient – 62%). Respondents were very critical of military aid to Ukraine: only 29% considered it sufficient and 62% insufficient.

Of course, the biggest concern for Ukrainians is the failure to close the airspace over all of Ukraine, or at least over the areas where the Ukrainian nuclear power plants are located (e.g. Chernobyl and Zaporozhye). No fly zone over Ukraine is the weakest link in its defence, and the help of our Western partners is needed to remove it. Thousands of civilians, among them defenceless women and children, are killed every day as a result of bombing and rocket attacks. So while half of respondents (50%) believe in ‘closing the sky’ over Ukraine, only 19% believe that NATO will make such a decision in the near future and 31% believe it will happen later. 43% of Ukrainians surveyed do not believe that Western countries will take this step. They point to the following reasons: 79% are convinced that the delay in closing the airspace by NATO countries is due to the fear of direct war with Russia, and another 12% believe that NATO countries do not want to spoil their relations with the country’s occupier. At the same time, an absolute majority of respondents (90%) maintain that Ukraine must continue to press NATO to close its airspace.

I cannot underestimate Russia’s threat of ‘revenge’ on those NATO countries who join in closing the Ukraine’s airspace, but in my opinion today is the time to finally put an end to Putin’s criminal regime through concerted efforts. Because if we, with the whole world, do not stop him here in our country, the new NATO members (who joined after the collapse of the USSR) will be next, because Putin wants to rebuild the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries. If, God forbid, Ukraine falls, you will be next and you will have to do much more to defeat Putinism and its army, and you will live with a sense of shame and guilt for those who fought so valiantly for freedom and independence, ours and yours.

These are the results of a survey of over 3,500 people in Ukraine, the UK, the US and Europe by Cygnal, Gradus and Response:AI. People in Western countries support increased financial and military aid to Ukraine, but are very cautious about their willingness to ‘close the sky’ over Ukraine or join in military action. Brent Buchanan, CEO of Cygnal, interpreting the findings said: “The message to Western leaders, both from the people of Ukraine and its leaders, is clear: do more. The majority of respondents want their home countries to provide financial assistance to Ukraine and increase the amount of armaments supplied.” Western respondents are divided on whether to provide Ukraine with air and ground support in its war with Russia. In Western countries, twice as many respondents support (fully or rather) the decision to use military force and establish a fly free zone over Ukraine: in the US – 45%, in the UK and EU – 46% each. Those opposed are 20%, 20% and 17% respectively. 75% of respondents in Europe are in favour of giving Ukraine financial aid, 62% of arms, 46% of ‘closing the sky’, 38% of joining the military action. 37% are against any military involvement. “Support for taking part in military action is particularly low in Poland, which is closest to the front line, at just 30%. This contrasts with the UK, where support reaches 42%. And interestingly with Spain, where 57% fully support such action,” – Buchanan said. “It is time for the Western democracies to stand up and defend the ideals on which they were built” [3].

From the point of view of sociologists from different countries, we see uniformity in the positions of Ukrainians, Europeans and our other foreign friends (despite some differences in indicators). The accomplished fact is the desire to defeat the criminal regime with all possible means. I believe that this massive influence of public opinion from all over the world will eventually help to increase pressure on the authorities and allow for an acceleration of the pace of assistance, including an increase in the supply of weapons to help protect Ukraine’s skies. This is especially true in the US, which is on the eve of the next election and where 74% of Americans support closing the Ukrainian skies and 80% support an embargo on oil and gas purchases from Russia [4].

Today, it is important for citizens to self-organise into communities in order to more efficiently convey the voice of public opinion to those in power. As an example, I will mention the initiative of the mayors of the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzhya, Mykolaiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Mariupol, Vinnitsa, Odessa, Lviv, Lutsk, Khmelnytskyi, Kramatorsk, Trotsyniec, Rivne, Zhytomyr. The appeal of the mayors of these largest cities has already been supported by representatives of 800 municipalities, and signatures are still being collected. The heads of Ukrainian local communities are asking local government leaders from all over the world to influence the leaders of their countries and thus save peace and Ukraine’s independence. To quote, “Tell the leaders of your countries and the politicians who make decisions that your help is needed in our defence. Make official appeals to your central authorities asking them to support (through a fast-track procedure) the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. Together we will be able to find solutions that will save Ukraine and the free world” [5].Of course, we should not idealise the Ukrainian presence. Not so long ago, one of the reasons for the reluctance to admit Ukraine to the European Union was the high level of corruption in the country. This is hard to deny, but war changes a lot. Let me give just one example from the life of an ordinary person who joined the territorial defence ranks and wrote a social media post entitled: “На війну ‘по блату’” – така нині ‘корупція’” (For war ‘for old time’s sake’ – such is the ‘corruption’ we have today) [6]. The point is that the territorial defence is a reserve of the Ukrainian Armed Forces which is joined by volunteers; since its creation at the beginning of the war, 100,000 Ukrainians have joined its ranks. There are more volunteers, and they want to increase the reserve by another fifty thousand. That is why those who did not manage to sign up are now looking for ‘back channels’, i.e. friends in the territorial defence leadership who would sign them up out of turn. The country is undergoing a wartime catharsis, cleansed of the dirt of the past, looks to the future with dignity and confidence in victory, feels free and European.

Notes

[1] Оцінка ситуації в Україні (8-9 березня 2022) [Evaluation of the situation in Ukraine (8–9 March 2022)]. URL: https://ratinggroup.ua/research/ukraine/ocenka_situacii_v_ukraine_8-9_marta_2022.html

[2] Оцінка міжнародної підтримки України (8-9 березня 2022) [Evaluation of international support for Ukraine (8–9 March 2022)]. URL: https://ratinggroup.ua/research/ukraine/ocenka_mezhdunarodnoy_podderzhki_ukrainy_8-9_marta_2022.html

[3] Poll: Westerners feel like Ukrainians – Do more. URL: https://www.cygnal/cygnal-poll-westerners-feel-like-ukrainians-do-more/

[4] Майже 80% американців підтримують відмову від купівлі нафти і газу з РФ, [Almost 80% of Americans support the abandonment of oil and gas purchases from Russia]. URL: https://www.eurointegration.com.ua/news/2022/03/9/7135559/

[5] Мери міст України до місцевих самоврядувань світу: Допоможіть закрити небо, [Mayors of the Ukrainian cities to local governments of the world: Help close the sky]. URL: https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2022/03/11/7330348/

[6] Вадим Петрасюк. На війну по «блату» – така нині корупція. [Vadim Petrasiuk, For war ‘for old time’s sake’ – such is the ‘corruption’ we have today]. URL: https://www.pravda.com.ua/columns/2022/03/10/7330081/

Published by: Małgorzata Jurkiewicz

18 Mar 2022

last modification: 18 Mar 2022