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Ukraine on the Fork. Russians’ adviseIn November 2013 the political fighting started around the choice of international integration project, the Ukrainian government should make. On the one hand the European Union has suggested signing the Agreement on Association. On the other hand the Russian government has been persistently inviting its neighbor to join the Customs Union (including Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus), established in 2010.
The refusal to sign the agreement with the European Union, the conclusion of which was planned for in time of the Vilnius Summit Meeting in November, has triggered the mass protests in Ukraine. The Ukrainian political crisis has been actively covered in the Russian media, and couldn’t leave indifferent the citizens of this country.
“Bashkirova and partners” Company carried out a survey in December 2013 to explore the opinion of the Russian citizens about the foreign policies of Ukraine.
More than a third of respondents (32%), have agreed with that view, widespread in the Russian mass media, that joining the Customs Union is to greater benefit of Ukraine. Just 18% have said Ukraine’s integration into the European Union to greater extent meets Ukraine’s interests. Additionally 16% suggest that Ukraine would better abstain from involvement in any international integration processes.
Most of the Russian supporters of the European track of Ukraine’s integration point to the following benefits Ukraine would have from the said integration: Ukraine’s involvement in the European cooperation and security system (38% of the respondents have given such an answer), it would make a driver for the further reforms (31%), availability of visa-free traveling to the EU states (25%), deeper integration with Europe (23%). Additionally, less unemployment rate and political establishing of the national identity of Ukraine could be highly relevant acquisitions of such integration.
Supporters of Ukraine’s entering the Customs Union focus on such advantages as: lower prices for the Russian gas for Ukrainian economy (51%), the market extension (48%), strengthening of relations with CIS participating countries (43%).
It’s remarkable that respondents “are promising” lower unemployment rate and prospects for further reforms both in the event of the Eurasian and European integration of Ukraine.
In such a manner, the Russian citizens keep to different sides of the coin in estimating the Ukraine foreign policies, attributing similar positive outcomes to the choice, they think, to Ukraine’s benefit. In overall both parties estimate similarly economical challenges Ukraine is facing, where both recognize the necessity of reforms. The very choice is made based on different, not economical criteria but on those associated with the system of values and outlook.
The study was conducted in December 2013 based on all-Russia quota sample (15+) using face-to-face interview method in place of residence. Altogether 1000 respondents in 8 federal districts, 153 settlements (201 sample points) have been interviewed.