- 69% in Ukraine expect to join NATO in the next decade
- 73% expect to join European Union in the same period
- Ukrainians are warmer to Germany, cooler to U.S.
This article is the second in a series based on Gallup's surveys in Ukraine this summer.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite the lack of a timetable from NATO on when Ukraine will be allowed to join the alliance, Ukrainians remain convinced that their country will join NATO in the next decade.
Gallup surveys show 69% of Ukrainians interviewed in July and August -- on the heels of the summit where NATO declared Ukraine would be allowed to join but did not say how or when -- expect Ukraine will be accepted within 10 years. A similar 64% expected the same in the early months of the war.
Ukrainians are similarly optimistic about when they will join the European Union, which is somewhat closer to reality after the country was granted candidate status last year. Nearly three in four Ukrainians (73%) believe Ukraine will be accepted into the EU within 10 years.
Before the war, Ukraine aspired to join NATO and the EU but was not on a formal path to do so. Four days after it was invaded, Ukraine applied for EU membership. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted his country’s application to NATO in late September 2022, after Russia conducted a referendum to annex four regions of Ukraine.
While Ukraine’s aspirations for joining NATO have not progressed any further than the NATO communique in July, negotiations with Ukraine on its future accession to the EU could begin as soon as December.
U.S. Image Slips From Record High, While Germany Gains
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 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. It also cemented Ukrainians’ turn to the West.
After the invasion, Ukrainians denounced the Kremlin and pivoted to the U.S., which threw its political, military and financial support behind Ukraine. Approval of U.S. leadership shot to a record-high 66% in the early months of the war -- higher than any rating Russia had ever received when it was on friendlier terms with Ukraine.
Almost a year later, a majority of Ukrainians still approve of U.S. leadership. However, the 53% of Ukrainians who approve of U.S. leadership is down significantly from the previous high.
Although the U.S. has directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, growing political opposition to Ukraine aid in the U.S., as well as U.S. reluctance to invite Ukraine to join NATO, may have created some uncertainty in Ukraine that has hurt U.S. leadership approval. The percentage of Ukrainians who do not express an opinion has increased to 25%, while disapproval has ticked up to 22%.
At the same time that the U.S. has lost ground among Ukrainians, Ukrainians’ approval of Germany’s leadership has increased and is now on par with that of the U.S.
While nearly half of Ukrainians approved of Germany’s leadership in 2022, their approval has increased to 53% as delayed aid and military support started to flow in 2023. Shortly before the survey this year, Germany finalized a $770 million military aid package for Ukraine.
Russia and China, on the other hand, have been left with few admirers in Ukraine. As in 2022, less than half of 1% of Ukrainians approve of Russia’s leadership as its war with Ukraine continues in 2023. Approval of China’s leadership has dropped to a new low of 8%, likely reflecting Ukrainians’ displeasure with the country’s refusal to stop buying energy from Russia.
Even if the how and when are still murky, the message from NATO and the EU to Ukraine is clear: Both believe Ukraine’s future lies with them. Nearly all Ukrainians firmly share this belief -- no more than one in 10 think it will never happen.
After 18 months of war with Russia, Ukraine’s pivot to the West seems complete, while the deep cultural, economic and political ties that existed between Ukraine and Russia are increasingly becoming part of Ukraine’s past.
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