Andriy BYCHENKO: The armed conflict in the east broke Ukraine’s negative stance on NATO
A substantial change in the stance in the Ukraine’s stance on Euro-Atlantic integration occurred after 2014 due to Russia’s aggression and the armed conflict in the Donbass. Said Andriy Bychenko, director of the sociological service, Razumkov Centre, during the 12th Kyiv Security Forum.
Ukrainians stopped viewing NATO as an aggressive bloc, said the expert.
“Until 2014, NATO was a Soviet “horror” for Ukrainian people. Even in the country’s central region, which had a pro-European outlook, the majority viewed NATO as an “aggressive bloc”. Since the start of the armed conflict in the east, this stereotype has been broken. This trend spread to every region in the country. In the southeast of the country, were previously 89% had a negative opinion of NATO, this number has dropped to 40-50%. There was a clear turn-around. Ukrainians stopped thinking of NATO as an aggressive military bloc,” said Andriy Bychenko.
He noted that the other “tectonic shift” in the public opinion in Ukraine after 2014 was the transformation of regional patriotism into nationwide patriotism.
“In the past, especially when it came to the southeast, people considered themselves to be local, regional patriots. Since the start of the military actions in 2014, changes have occurred that can be called “a positive consequence of armed conflict”. More specifically, a significant increase in the amount of people that are proud of being Ukrainian. Therefore, we can constitute a significant increase in the patriotism in its various hypostases,” underlined Andriy Bychenko.
The director of the sociological service, Razumkov Center, noted that hallmark of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic orientation became the fact that they are committed to relying on themselves.
“The idea of European integration has really become dominant for Ukrainian. However, our research shows that Ukrainian citizens aren’t looking to completely rely on the EU and NATO. A significant part of Ukrainians are ready to fight for European values. And the idea that you need to rely on your own power during armed conflict has become substantially more powerful,” concluded Andriy Bychenko.
The annual “Kyiv Security Forum” was initiated by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk “Open Ukraine” Foundation in 2007. Since then, the Forum has become a platform for high-level, international discussions about relevant matters of national security, as well as the security of the Black Sea region, Europe, and the world.