Ukraininans’ Desire to Join NATO and the EU

Ukraininans’ Desire to Join NATO and the EU

Katharina Buchholz

Representative survey of ~ 1700 Ukrainian adults per survey wave, excludes Crimea and Donbas. Source: Rating Sociological Group


NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Oslo today. Ahead of the session, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Sweden and urged Turkey and Hungary to ratify the Nordic country's membership in the organization. The bigger elephant in the room during the meeting will be another nation's membership prospects: those of Ukraine. While the country is not expected to join immediately, the question of what NATO can offer Ukraine right now will be posed during the meeting. Ukrainians' desire to join the treaty (and the EU) is higher than ever after some hesitation, a survey from the country's Rating Sociological Group shows.

In March 2022, the first time the survey was carried out after the Russian invasion of the country, support for joining NATO and the EU shot up in Ukraine. While the share of people for a membership in the European Union rose suddenly, support for NATO grew more gradually but reached a high of 86 percent - compared with 87 percent support for EU membership - in January. Even in 2021 and early 2022, Ukrainians' uneasiness is visible in survey results as support for both institutions grew.

Ukraine has been an official aspirant country of NATO since 2014, but chances of a membership had been slim from the start as Russia has openly opposed Ukraine’s becoming a part of the treaty and has threatened retaliation should the country have been allowed to join. An equally unlikely prospect, but one that is just as telling of Ukrainians’ desire for peace and stability and their increased awareness of the need to find European allies is EU membership.

Western Ukrainians were most in favor of joining the bodies, showing support levels above 90 percent. Eastern Ukrainians still supported membership in the bodies at 80 percent of respondents or more being for it (Donbas and Crimea were not surveyed). The biggest difference in opinion was seen between social groups with only 77 percent and 72 percent of poorer Ukrainians supporting EU and NATO membership, respectively, compared to 89 percent of wealthier Ukrainians.