75% of residents of Donetsk region now consider russia to be a party to the conflict

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The number of Ukrainian citizens in government-controlled areas in Donbas who consider russia to be a party to the conflict has grown in just over a year, so Ukraine should not agree to decisions that will downplay russia’s role as a party to the conflict, according to a poll entitled “Public Sentiment in Donbas 2020” conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.

The results of the poll were presented at an online press conference broadcasted by Ukrinform on Thursday, April 9.

In particular, 75% of residents of Donetsk region now consider russia to be a party to the conflict, whereas in a preliminary poll in November 2018 only 57% held such a view. The figures in Luhansk region are 46% against 40% over a year ago.

At present, russia is not seen as a party to the conflict by 12% of residents of Donetsk region (23% shared this opinion in 2018) and 39% of residents of Luhansk region (41%).

Commenting on the poll data, the foundation’s political analyst, Mariia Zolkina, said that strategic miscalculation for Ukraine, not only from the diplomatic point of view, but also from the point of view of possible consequences for public sentiment in Ukraine, would be to agree to decisions that would reduce russia’s role as a party to the conflict.

“That is, if we agree, for example, to the current format of the Consultative Council under the Trilateral Contract Group in Minsk, where russia is no longer a negotiating party, not a party to the conflict, but an observer at the level with the OSCE, Germany and France, then we will receive not only a losing position from the diplomatic point of view, not only the prospect of weakening our positions in international courts, but we will also get a serious tool for shattering the anti-state sentiment in Donbas,” she said.

A regional survey was conducted in the government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Center for Political Sociology (with the involvement of the Ukrainian Sociological Service) from February 18 to March 2, 2020. A total of 500 respondents were interviewed in each of the regions. The sample is representative of age, gender, and place of residence. The poll’s margin of error does not exceed 3.5%.

The survey was conducted with the financial support of the British Embassy in Ukraine.

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