Nezavisimaia Gazeta has published the results of an interesting Ukrainian opinion poll, which sheds light on why the conflict in Donbass remains unresolved.
According to the survey, 18.6% of Ukrainians support the idea of continuing the war in Donbass until final victory, down from 30% at the start of the year. However, only 23% are willing to countenance changing the Ukrainian constitution to give special status for Donbass, as required under the Minsk agreements. The most favoured policy option (30% of respondents) is to declare Donbass ‘occupied’ and isolate it. Only 12% of those polled supported the Minsk agreements in general. More specifically, although those agreements state that elections should take place in Donbass before the rebels hand control of the border back to the Ukrainian government, merely 24% of people supported this idea, whereas 51% opposed it. The agreements similarly oblige Kiev to grant an amnesty to the rebels. This has the support of 34% of people, but is rejected by 38%.
To borrow a phrase from Leon Trotsky, the situation in Ukraine is ‘neither war nor peace’. The poll suggests that this is no accident. Ukrainians have no great appetite for war, but they are unwilling to take the steps required to bring peace. If they have ended up with something in between, it is because that is what they appear to prefer. As Nezavisimaia Gazeta concludes, Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko ‘cannot not take these circumstances into consideration’. At this stage, therefore, a major change in Ukrainian policy is unlikely.