WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ukraine's consideration of NATO membership has increased tension between the country and neighboring Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Tuesday that if Ukraine joins NATO and allows the United States to place a missile shield on Ukrainian soil, Russia may "target its offensive missile systems at Ukraine." In response, Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko offered assurances that ambitions to join NATO are no threat to Russia and that his country would willingly ban the alliance's bases if it worried Russia.
When Gallup polled in Ukraine last year, respondents were asked whether it is more important for Ukraine to have close relations with Russia or with the United States. Slightly less than half of Ukrainians (46%) surveyed said it was more important to have close relations with Russia even if it might hurt relations with the United States, while only 10% said strong relations with the United States were more important regardless of the harm they might do to Ukrainian-Russian relations. Slightly more than a third of Ukrainians (36%) volunteered the response that it was important to have close relationships with both countries.
Asked whether they approve or disapprove of the leadership in the three countries, a majority of Ukrainians (53%) said they approved of the job performance of Russia's leaders, while only 16% approved of U.S. leadership and 7% approved of their own country's leadership.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted in April-July 2007, with 1,066 adults, aged 15 and older, in Ukraine. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.