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15 Dec, 2023 16:06

More Ukrainians willing to trade land for peace – poll

A small but growing minority believe Kiev should abandon its territorial goals
More Ukrainians willing to trade land for peace – poll

The share of Ukrainians willing to make territorial concessions to Russia in exchange for a peace deal has almost doubled since early summer, according to a new survey. However, a significant majority still believe that Ukraine can beat Russia on the battlefield with more Western weapons.

The poll, carried out by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology and released on Thursday, found that 19% of respondents would favor such a deal, up from 10% in May; 74% insisted that “under no circumstances should Ukraine give up any of its territories,” while 7% were unsure.

Of those who would back a peace deal, 71% said that Ukraine would be able to win a military victory if it received enough weapons from the West. Among those who oppose a deal, belief in the supremacy of Western arms was even stronger, with 93% agreeing that “with proper support from the West, Ukraine can achieve success.”

The pollsters surveyed 1,031 adults in Ukraine and in parts of four formerly Ukrainian regions claimed by Kiev.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has maintained since the start of the conflict that his military will retake all of Ukraine’s former territories, including Crimea. However, his long-promised summer counteroffensive failed to land Ukraine more than a handful of frontline villages and resulted in the loss of over 125,000 troops and 16,000 pieces of heavy equipment, according to the latest figures from the Russian Defense Ministry.

With the offensive halted, Zelensky is heading into 2024 with US Republicans blocking President Joe Biden’s promised $60 billion military aid package until at least mid-January. Existing US military aid is dwindling, and Zelensky has reportedly been instructed by the Pentagon to conserve what equipment remains.

Any future peace deal between Moscow and Kiev will be worse for Ukraine than the agreement proposed by the Kremlin before the conflict. In early 2022, Russia called on NATO to provide legally binding guarantees that Ukraine would not become a member of the bloc, and demanded that Ukraine abide by the 2015 Minsk agreements, which guaranteed autonomy to the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye have all now seceded from Ukraine and joined the Russian Federation, and the Kremlin maintains that any potential settlement must take these new “territorial realities” into account. Russian President Valdimir Putin said on Thursday that Moscow seeks the “de-Nazification and demilitarization of Ukraine” as well as “neutral status” for the country, and will not stop its military operation until these goals are achieved.