Why Ukrainians want compromise more than ever

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Ukrainians have survived the horrors of war for almost two years. On February 24, 2022, 6.3 million Ukrainians left the country after the start of the Russian invasion. And 37 lakhs have been displaced within the country.


This war has disrupted geopolitical and ecological normality. But ordinary Ukrainians who remain in the country and struggle to survive every day, face a hellish experience every day.


As the war enters its third year, what is the attitude of ordinary Ukrainians? As a political geographer with long experience working in the region, I can say that the opinion of Ukrainians during the war faced several challenges.


One in four Ukrainians is now displaced. The environment in the area of ​​about 1000 kilometers of the war front is extremely unstable, missile and drone attacks are going on every day. While the feeling of patriotism is still very high, there is also mistrust in it. This attitude is especially high among the people of Russian occupied areas.


A telephone poll is now being conducted in Ukraine. Survey organizations call operating telephone numbers and ask citizens over the age of 18 a variety of questions. But there is very little response. Still, survey companies are relentlessly trying.

FILE Ñ Ukrainian soldiers fire a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer at Russian positions in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on June 21, 2022. Some officials are concerned that pulling too many Ukrainian artillery specialists off the front lines for training could weaken Ukrainian defenses. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)

The National Democratic Institute’s latest poll was released in January. The survey revealed 26 questions about how Ukrainians are coping with the war. The survey was conducted by telephone between November 14-22, 2023, and 2,516 Ukrainians took part in it.


Cost of living and mental health breakdown

A survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute in May 2022 after the start of the war asked whether they had lost any friends or relatives in the war. At the time, one in five people said they had lost a friend or relative. In this survey, half of Ukrainians said they lost their loved ones.


The damage to mental health caused by the war in Ukraine must be taken into account. Many are forced to take shelter in bunkers for hours. According to the latest survey, half of men and one in three women suffer from mental health problems. Singularly speaking, most people suffer from sleep problems. Loss of work, deterioration of physical health and family separation—these problems were also seen in most cases.


After the end of the war, a large population of Ukraine had to live with physical and mental problems. Their rehabilitation needs to be taken into consideration now, which will increase in the future.


Ukrainians do not want to lose territory to Russia

After the start of the war, the Ukrainians were asked, in exchange for what they wanted to come to peace. But among Ukrainians who have been directly affected by the war, this question is difficult to answer.


A survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology after the start of the war shows that Ukrainians are strongly opposed to ceding territory to Russia in order to establish a quick peace. Residents of cities directly affected by the war in southeastern Ukraine believe Ukraine’s integrity is sacred.


But it is normal for people’s minds to change with reality. Ukrainians are divided over whether to prioritize protecting territory or saving lives.


Wartime experience is also an important criterion in this regard. In the early days of the war, the main problem for Ukrainians was to leave their homes. At that time most were concerned about their safety. As a result, most Ukrainians voted for a quick ceasefire.


Russia now occupies about 18 percent of Ukraine (excluding parts of the Donbass and Crimea that it annexed before February 2022). In this context, 71 percent of the Ukrainians who took part in the survey have now given a very strong opinion that they are not willing to give up territory to Russia in exchange for peace. Another 13 percent held the same opinion, though not strongly. And only 12 percent say they would accept giving up territory to Russia in exchange for peace.


And very few Ukrainians who took part in the survey said that giving up their desire to join NATO in exchange for peace is acceptable to them.



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