‘Justice’ for Ukraine overshadowed by cost of living concerns, poll finds | Ukraine

Europe’s unity in the face of the war in Ukraine is under threat as public attention increasingly shifts from the battlefield to cost-of-living concerns, according to a poll in 10 European countries, the gap is widening digging between voters who want a quick end to the conflict and those who want Russia punished.

The survey in nine EU member states – Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden – as well as the UK found that support for Ukraine remained high, but that concerns have shifted to the wider impacts of the conflict.

“The Europeans had surprised Putin – and themselves – with their unity so far, but the big stresses are coming now,” said Mark Leonard, co-author of a European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) report on the change of attitude towards Russia. invasion.

The ability of governments to retain public support for potentially harmful policies would be crucial, Leonard said, warning that the rift between the “peace” and “justice” camps could be “as damaging as that between creditors and debtors during the euro crisis”.

The survey found that despite strong support across Europe for Ukraine’s bid for EU membership and the Western policy of severing ties with Moscow, many European voters want the war to end as soon as possible, even if it means Ukraine losing territory.

This view often did not reflect the position of national governments, the authors said, warning European leaders against “maximalist positions” on the war and suggesting that they remain tough on Russia but cautious about the dangers of war. ‘escalation.

“At the start of the war, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe felt justified in their warmongering attitude towards Russia,” write Leonard and his co-author Ivan Krastev. “But in the next phase, countries like Poland could find themselves marginalized if the ‘peace’ camp widens its appeal to other member states.”

The poll, conducted between April 28 and May 11, found near universal support for Ukraine, with 73% of respondents in the 10 countries blaming Russia for the war.

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More than 80% in Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom (83%) and Finland (90%) say they hold Russia responsible, as well as strong majorities in Italy (56%), France (62%) and Germany (66%), while majorities or pluralities also saw Russia as the main obstacle to peace.

There was strong support for cutting ties with Russia. A majority in all 10 countries believed governments should sever economic and cultural ties with Moscow, with most – reaching 71% in Poland – also favoring an end to diplomatic ties.

Similarly, 58% in the 10 countries – rising to 77% in Finland – wanted the EU to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, even at the expense of the bloc’s climate goals, suggesting public support for a new round of EU sanctions, including on oil.

But the ECFR poll showed a clear split between Europeans who want peace as soon as possible (35% in the 10 countries) and those who want justice – defined as the restoration of the territorial integrity of Europe. Ukraine and Russia’s accountability (22%).

A third “swing” group, which shares the anti-Russian sentiments of justice supporters but also the peace camp’s escalation fears, accounted for around 20% of voters, according to the report – with large differences in the distribution between the countries.

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The peace camp – whose supporters also tended to believe that Ukraine would be worse off than Russia when the conflict ends – was most strongly supported in Italy (52%), according to polls, while the Poland had the largest justice camp, at 41%.

Fundamentally, opinions on the EU’s political response to the invasion varied depending on which camp the respondents were on, with justice voters supporting the severing of economic, diplomatic and cultural ties, and peace voters not arguing that the first of them.

Asked what worried them most about the war, respondents in Germany, Italy and France were most concerned about the cost of living and energy prices, while respondents in Sweden, UK and Poland were most concerned about the threat of nuclear war.

As the conflict drags on and the costs mount, governments will be increasingly forced to “balance the pursuit of European unity with divergent opinions both within and between member states”, write the authors, noting a “growing gap between the positions of many governments and the mood of the public in their respective countries”.

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