Only 10% of Europeans believe Ukraine can defeat Russia — poll

February 21, 2024
Ukrainian troops ride on an APC with a Ukrainian flag, in a field with sunflowers in Kryva Luka, eastern Ukraine. (File)
Ukrainian troops ride on an APC with a Ukrainian flag, in a field with sunflowers in Kryva Luka, eastern Ukraine. (File)

BRUSSELS — Only one in ten Europeans believe that Ukraine can defeat Russia, according to an EU-wide poll.

Conducted across 12 EU countries — including France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden — the survey found that pessimism about the war's outcome was being fuelled by Ukraine's failed counteroffensive, a potential US policy shift and the possibility of Donald Trump getting into the White House.

The report — titled 'Wars and Elections: How European leaders can maintain public support for Ukraine' — found that 20% predicted a Russian victory.

The findings come on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

Though support for Kyiv among Europeans remains high, some form of "compromise settlement" is seen by those polled as the most likely solution to the war.

This marks a shift in sentiment, with a majority of Europeans saying Ukraine must regain all of its lost territory this time last year.

The report's authors argued that, based on these findings, EU politicians should take a more "realistic" approach that centres upon establishing how peace can be achieved.

“In order to make the case for continued European support for Ukraine, EU leaders will need to change how they talk about the war,” co-author Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), which commissioned the polling, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Most Europeans “are desperate to prevent a Russian victory” but do not believe Kyiv can win militarily, he continued.

Facing an increasingly sceptical public, Leonard explained that arguments for more aid should focus on how it “could lead to a sustainable, negotiated peace that favours Kyiv – rather than a victory for Putin.”

Ukrainians largely remain opposed to any settlement that cedes territory to Russia, according to polls.

Some experts argue that a peace deal which handed over Ukrainian soil could embolden the Kremlin, possibly leading to more conflict in the future. Others believe that ending the bloodshed should be paramount.

The poll was carried out in January. Moscow has since achieved a strategic and symbolic victory in the eastern Donetsk region, after Ukrainian forces were forced to withdraw from Adiivka this weekend.

A preference for pushing Kyiv to accept a settlement was most common in Hungary (64%), Greece (59%) and Italy (52%), while support for Ukraine regaining territories was strongest in Sweden (50%), Portugal (48%) and Poland (47%).

Opinions were more evenly split in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and France. — Euronews

February 21, 2024
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