“To be partners, not vassals”
Recently the Sociological Service “Rating” published a report on the research called “The Dynamics of Ideological Markers,” which was conducted from February 10 through 24. UKRINFORM reported that According to their results the number of supporters of prolongation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet stay in Ukraine until 2042 has significantly decreased. In a year the number of the supporters went down from 42 to 33 percent, while the number of the opponents grew from 42 percent to 49 percent, and 18 percent of respondents have not yet decided on the answer to this question. According to the sociologists who conducted the research, the Kharkiv Accords of April 21, 2010, which prolonged the stay of Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea for another 25 years in exchange for a discount price for Russian gas, contributed to the loss of former supporters not only in the center of the country, but also in the northern, eastern, and southern parts of the country, as well as in the Donbas.
The Day asked for an expert opinion on this change of public attitude.
Kostiantyn MATVIIENKO, political scientist, expert in strategy consulting corporation “Hardaryka”:
“The factors that have changed the public attitude are complex, there is a dependence on the situation awareness of the respondents because the survey was conducted involving completely different people, who live in different regions, and use different sources of information. We should probably begin with the most widely spread position: we see that the relations with Russia in energy sector and trade exchange are growing more and more tense, Russia is practically running an open trade war against Ukraine. Accordingly, the attitude of Ukrainian citizens towards Russia is worsening that is why the attitude towards Russian Black See Fleet’s stay in Ukraine changes in the same way. If to speak about better informed people, we realize that the world is now on the verge of major military conflicts, primarily due to the Iranian-Israeli relations. It is very close, Iran is near the Caspian Sea and if the United States come to Iran, it will mean that they have access to completely unprotected Russian south, Astrakhan, Lower Volga, and also to the Russia’s ally – Kazakhstan, not to mention Armenia and Azerbaijan. Those people who realize this danger understand that the fact of Russian Black Sea Fleet presence in Ukraine will mean Ukraine’s involvement in a major conflict. Proof of the fact that such danger exists is that the Black Sea Fleet took part in the war in Georgia, called by Russians a ‘peace enforcement operation.’”
Oleksandr FORMANCHUK, head, Expert Analysis Group, Council of Ministers, Autonomous Republic of the Crimea; co-chairman, Association of Crimean Political Scientists; expert, Crimean Political Dialogue project:
“It is a true mirror reflection of the relations between Ukraine and Russia, first of all, in the gas supply sector; it is the echo of that ‘war.’ Far from all are accepting Russia’s tough stand on Ukraine, including its policy of coercing Ukraine into strategic partnership, above all, in the gas sphere, on its own conditions. People can feel that it is more difficult now to live in Ukraine. At the same time, there are no grounds to believe that Putin will change his attitude – he will keep it unchanged at least until the elections in Ukraine and he will be rejecting any compromises. This in turn helps form a negative opinion in Ukraine about this policy. For high gas prices affect both the country’s economy and the life of every family in Ukraine. So this is a natural reaction of the Ukrainians to Russia’s tough position. On the other hand, the very fact of having the Black Sea Fleet based in the Crimea promotes stability in the region. As part of the Crimean Political Dialogue project, we recently visited Istanbul and spoke to many Turkish experts. It is significant that they are taking quite a calm attitude to this problem, first of all, because the level of Turkey’s strategic partnership with Russia is far higher than the one with Ukraine, so they are raising no row over the extension of the lease of the Sevastopol naval base. In other words, there is also such thing as the interests of strategic partnership between Turkey and Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, Ukraine and Russia, and the question of the fleet’s presence will only be occasionally reconsidered from the angle of geopolitics and partnership rather than public opinion.”