What Ukrainians Think about Future of Crimea

A nationwide survey was conducted by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation together with the Razumkov Center Sociological Service on July 29 – August 4, 2021. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2019 respondents aged 18 and over at their place of residence, in all regions of Ukraine, except for Crimea and temporarily occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The sample is representative of key social and demographic parameters. The theoretical sampling error (without design effect) does not exceed 2.3% with a probability of 0.95.

Macroregions:

West – Volyn, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Rivne, Ternopil, Chernivtsi regions; Center – Vinnytsia, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Poltava, Sumy, Khmelnytsky, Cherkasy, Chernihiv regions + Kyiv City;

South – Mykolayiv, Odesa, Kherson regions; East – Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, Kharkiv regions

The results of nationwide surveys conducted jointly by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center Sociological Service on May 11-16, 2016 and August 16-22, 2018 are provided for comparison.

An absolute majority of Ukrainians (61%) think that in the future Crimea should be part of Ukraine. This opinion is shared by a majority of citizens, regardless of gender or macroregion. People older than 60 (54%) and those living in eastern Ukraine (47%) are least likely to see Crimea’s political future as a part of Ukraine. Young people aged 18-29 (67%) and residents of western Ukraine (73%) are most confident that Crimea will become part of Ukraine again. Only 6% of citizens of Ukraine think that Crimea should be part of the Russian Federation, which is 4% less than those who think that Crimea should be an independent state (10%).    

Ukrainians are divided over whether it’s possible that Crimea will return to Ukraine: 43% think that, one way or another, Crimea will in the future be part of Ukraine; 44% think it is unlikely or impossible. The number of people who believe Crimea will return to Ukraine has dropped 11% since 2016, and the number of people who think its return is impossible or unlikely has grown by 7%. People in the west of the country have the greatest faith in the return of Crimea (61%), while those in the east (31%) have the least. The greatest statistical difference remains in the south (40% who believe vs. 49% who do not believe that Crimea could return to Ukraine) and in the east (31% believe vs. 55% who do not believe that Crimea could return to Ukraine). Citizens aged 50-59 (49%) and 60 and over (50%) are most skeptical about Crimea’s return to Ukraine.
 

Among respondents who believe that the return of Crimea to Ukraine is possible, the most effective way to achieve this is through diplomatic efforts aimed at toughening sanctions against Russia (47%) and by enacting reforms that will increase living standards in Ukraine and make a return more attractive to residents of Crimea (46%). Ukrainians are least likely to believe that negotiations with the Russian Federation (12%) or the complete isolation of occupied Crimea and cutting off of all contacts (13%) will be effective.    

Respondents in all macroregions, except the south, think that the following measures are necessary for the return of Crimea: tougher international sanctions on Russia; enacting reforms and increasing living standards in Ukraine; strengthening Ukraine’s military and planning an operation to liberate Crimea. Respondents in the east are more likely to think that Ukraine needs to strengthen its military in order to return occupied Crimea as compared to those in central Ukraine: 30% in the east vs. 23% in the center. Compared to other regions, residents of the south are most likely to see normalization of relations with the Russian Federation as a way of resolving the issue of the occupation of Crimea (27%)    

In the opinion of the Ukrainians surveyed, the main factor that makes the return of Crimea to Ukraine impossible is the presence of Russian troops in Crimea (52%). Two other important factors identified by respondents were the negative attitude towards Ukraine among residents of the peninsula (39%) and the duration of the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation (35%). The greatest regional difference in opinion exists in the eastern macroregion; most of the people surveyed in eastern regions (50%) believe the return of Crimea to Ukraine is possible because residents of the peninsula have a negative attitude towards Ukraine.

An absolute majority of Ukrainians (57%) support Crimean Tatar national autonomy after the liberation of Crimea from Russian occupation. Support for Crimean Tatar autonomy has grown by 7% compared with the results of the survey conducted by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation in 2018, while the number of those opposed has dropped by 6%. The increase was largely due to an increase in respondents who said they fully support Crimean Tatar autonomy.

Support for Crimean Tatar autonomy is strongest in western (66%) and central (64%) regions, and weakest in southern (48%) and eastern (44%) regions.

At the same time, 61% support recognizing the status of the Crimean Tatar people as an indigenous people of Ukraine, as per the recent adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine.” Support for granting the Crimean Tatars indigenous peoples status is greatest in western (71%) and central (68%) regions, and lowest in eastern and southern (49%) regions, where many people remain undecided on the issue. In eastern regions 30% of respondents oppose giving Crimean Tatars the status of an indigenous people and 21% are undecided; in southern regions 27% of respondents are against it and 24% are undecided.        

SURVEY RESULTS

1. How do you see Crimea’s political future? (% of all respondents)

Crimea should be part of Russia

6.4

Crimea should be part of Ukraine

61.2

Crimea should be an independent state

10.3

Hard to say

22.1

 

2. In your opinion, is the return of Crimea to Ukraine possible in the future? (% of all respondents)

Yes, and it could happen soon

9.3

Most likely possible, but it will take a long time

34.0

Most likely impossible

27.3

No, it’s absolutely impossible. Ukraine has lost Crimea forever

17.1

Hard to say

12.3

 

3. What measures and state policy are necessary to return Crimea to Ukraine? (% of respondents who think the return of Crimea is NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Multiple responses could be chosen.)

Completely isolating occupied Crimea, cutting off all contacts

12.9

Diplomatic efforts to get tougher international sanctions on Russia

47.1

Strengthening Ukraine’s military and planning an operation to liberate Crimea

27.9

Enacting reforms that will increase living standards in Ukraine and attract residents of Crimea

46.4

Normalizing relations with Russia via negotiations

12.1

Other

3.1

Hard to say

15.1

 

4. What makes the return of Crimea to Ukraine impossible? (% of respondents who think the return of Crimea is IMPOSSIBLE. Multiple responses could be chosen.)

Negative attitude towards Ukraine among peninsula residents

38.7

Strong Russian military presence in Crimea

52.4

Lack of interest by Ukrainian government in returning Crimea

29.3

Weak international support for Ukraine’s efforts to return Crimea

28.7

Duration of Russian occupation of Crimea

35.3

Other

2.3

Hard to say

4.3

 

5. Do you support Crimea Tatar national autonomy after the peninsula’s de-occupation from Russia and its return to Ukraine? (% of all respondents)

Totally support

24.1

Mostly support

33.0

Mostly oppose

10.7

Totally oppose

11.9

Hard to say

20.3

 

6. Do you support giving the Crimean Tatars the legal status of an indigenous people of Ukraine? (% of all respondents)

Totally support

28.8

Mostly support

32.6

Mostly oppose

9.8

Totally oppose

10.0

Hard to say

18.8

SURVEY RESULTS. REGIONAL BREAKDOWN

1. How do you see Crimea’s political future? (% of all respondents)

 

West

Center

South

East

Crimea should be part of Russia

2.3

5.2

4.6

12.6

Crimea should be part of Ukraine

72.6

65.4

57.7

46.6

Crimea should be an independent state

9.2

10.4

15.4

8.6

Hard to say

15.9

19.0

22.4

32.1

 

2. In your opinion, is the return of Crimea to Ukraine possible in the future? (% of all respondents)

 

West

Center

South

East

Yes, and it could happen soon

17.6

5.6

3.7

9.4

Most likely possible, but it will take a long time

43.1

36.2

36.5

21.4

Most likely impossible

25.3

26.0

29.5

29.9

No, it’s absolutely impossible. Ukraine has lost Crimea forever

6.7

17.4

19.1

25.2

Hard to say

7.3

14.7

11.2

14.1

 

3. What measures and state policy do you believe are necessary to return Crimea to Ukraine? (% of respondents who think the return of Crimea is NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Multiple responses could be chosen.)

 

West

Center

South

East

Completely isolating occupied Crimea, cutting off all contacts

18.1

13.8

4.0

9.7

Diplomatic efforts to get tougher international sanctions on Russia

60.5

49.8

31.2

34.7

Strengthening Ukraine’s military and planning an operation to liberate Crimea

40.0

22.6

14.0

30.0

Enacting reforms that will increase living standards in Ukraine and attract residents of Crimea

41.8

46.1

66.7

44.7

Normalizing relations with Russia via negotiations

4.7

10.8

27.0

17.5

Other

2.0

5.3

1.9

1.3

Hard to say

7.4

16.8

11.2

25.3

 

4. What makes the return of Crimea to Ukraine impossible? (% of respondents who think the return of Crimea is IMPOSSIBLE. Multiple responses could be chosen.)

 

West

Center

South

East

Negative attitude towards Ukraine among peninsula residents

27.1

37.9

31.0

50.1

Strong Russian military presence in Crimea

55.0

61.8

59.6

38.8

Lack of interest by Ukrainian government in returning Crimea

23.2

36.3

36.4

22.7

Weak international support for Ukraine’s efforts to return Crimea

29.0

33.2

39.3

19.6

Duration of Russian occupation of Crimea

36.0

32.8

50.1

33.3

Other

3.6

2.8

0.0

2.5

Hard to say

4.6

3.2

4.3

5.9

 

5. Do you support Crimea Tatar national autonomy after the peninsula’s de-occupation from Russia and its return to Ukraine? (% of all respondents)

 

West

Center

South

East

Totally support

23.6

28.9

17.5

20.6

Mostly support

42.1

35.1

30.4

22.9

Mostly oppose

11.1

9.4

14.2

10.9

Totally oppose

5.4

5.5

12.5

26.5

Hard to say

17.8

21.2

25.4

19.1

 

6. Do you support giving the Crimean Tatars the legal status of an indigenous people of Ukraine? (% of all respondents)

 

West

Center

South

East

Totally support

32.6

33.2

16.6

24.4

Mostly support

38.6

34.6

32.0

24.4

Mostly oppose

9.8

8.5

14.9

9.6

Totally oppose

4.0

5.6

12.4

20.7

Hard to say

15.0

18.1

24.1

20.9