How changing Ukrainian society impacts the chances for peace

In this commentary for PONARS Eurasia, IISS Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia Samuel Charap analyses the changes in Ukrainian society since the 2014 crisis.
Photo by Maksymenko Oleksandr

By Samuel Charap, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia

There is no question that regional divergences in identity still matter in Ukraine. These divergences have roots in the pre-Soviet period, so it would be impossible for them to be erased within three years, as Keith Darden’s research has demonstrated.

Polling conducted since the conflict began shows that Ukrainians in the South and East continue to express different preferences on key political, cultural-historical, and geopolitical questions than their compatriots in the country’s western provinces, even though the annexation of Crimea and Russia's intervention in the Donbas have significantly reduced the appeal of integration with Russia-led institutions.

In government-controlled areas of the East and South, popular turnout in the 2014 parliamentary election was significantly lower than in the West and Center. This helped produce a parliament with a large declaratively pro-Western majority and led some to conclude that Ukrainians themselves had profoundly changed their views. However, the quantity of votes cast for such parties was approximately the same as it had been for all previous elections; what had changed was the total number of votes due to low turnout in the South and East.

Read the full article at PONARS Eurasia.

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