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Ukrainians Denounce Kremlin, Pivot to U.S.

Ukrainians Denounce Kremlin, Pivot to U.S.

Story Highlights

  • 96% of Ukrainians disapprove of Russia's leadership
  • U.S. leadership approval soars to new high of 66%
  • China loses favor in Ukraine for its support of Russia

This article is the second in a series based on Gallup's surveys in Ukraine in early September.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than a decade ago, critics of the Kremlin would have been hard to find in Ukraine. But now, more than six months into the war with Russia, only the critics remain -- including in the parts of Ukraine where Russia declared martial law on Wednesday.

Nearly all Ukrainians -- 96% of Ukrainians surveyed by Gallup in early September -- disapprove of Russia's leadership. Less than half of 1% of all Ukrainians approve.


Gallup collected these data Sept. 2-11 across all parts of Ukraine, including the four occupied regions in the country's South and East, where Russia launched referendums on Sept. 23 to annex them and later declared martial law. Notably, before either of these developments, no respondents in any region -- except a rare few in the East -- approved of Russia's leadership. In the East, just 1% of Ukrainians said they approve.

The war has essentially destroyed the last shred of the once-strong support that Russia enjoyed in Ukraine until it occupied Crimea in 2014 and backed separatists in the country's East.

For most of the decade leading up to this, Ukrainians, who generally felt a great deal of kinship with their neighbors, largely approved of Russia's leadership. Approval ratings soared as high as 61% in 2010. But in the aftermath of Crimea in 2014, just 5% of Ukrainians approved of Russia's leadership -- and since then, approval has never topped 13%.

Approval of U.S. Leadership Soars to Record High

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the U.S. has invested nearly $18 billion in Ukraine's security assistance. U.S. support of Ukraine -- militarily, financially and politically -- has not gone unnoticed by Ukrainians. In 2022, a record-high 66% of Ukrainians say they approve of U.S. leadership, almost double what it was in 2021.


Until now, Ukrainians have generally held U.S. leadership in relatively low esteem, with approval ratings failing to top 40% in any year before 2022. Despite its low ratings, U.S. leadership has been in a stronger position in Ukraine than Russian leadership has since 2014. Further, the 66% approval rating is higher than any rating Russia has ever earned, marking Ukraine's pivot toward the U.S.

About Half of Ukrainians Approve of Germany's Leadership

While Germany's leadership does not earn the approval ratings in Ukraine that the U.S. does, about half of Ukrainians (46%) approve of Germany's leadership, which is about where it has rested for the past five years.

Like the U.S., Germany has also sided with Ukraine in its war with Russia, providing aid and weapons. But its slowness to respond and reluctance to send heavy weapons has drawn criticism from Ukraine and may explain why its citizens do not think more of Germany's leadership.


Ukrainians' Approval of China Drops to New Low

Although China considers Ukraine a strategic partner, China's failure to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine has likely hurt its image in Ukraine. Just last week, China abstained from joining the United Nations as it symbolically condemned the annexation of parts of Eastern Ukraine.

While the leadership of the U.S. and China were on similar footing in 2021, with approval ratings of 37% and 36%, respectively, China's rating in 2022 tumbled to a new low of 14%.


Bottom Line

A former Soviet republic, Ukraine has a long, important history with Russia and the deep cultural, economic and political ties that go with it. But Gallup's data suggest the escalating war between them may be the point of no return for many in Ukraine -- including many in regions that Russia now claims as its own.

The war has only pushed Ukraine closer to the U.S. and to Western blocs such as the European Union and NATO -- exactly what Russia was trying to prevent with its invasion.

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For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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