About a half of Ukrainian and Russian people want their countries to remain independent but friendly, with open borders and mutual visa-free regimes for citizens, according to a joint poll by Russian and Ukrainian think tanks.
In Russia, 45 percent of respondents supported the idea of a friendly alliance with Ukraine without customs of visa barriers, similar to the relations between the nations of the European Union. Still, 16 percent of Russians said they would prefer their country and Ukraine to exist in the form of a single union state.
In Ukraine, 50 percent of respondents told researchers that they would prefer their country and Russia to mutually drop all customs taxes and visa restrictions but remain independent states. The share of supporters of the union state with Russia was 4 percent, down from about 20 percent ten years back.
However, almost a third of all Russians and 39 percent of Ukrainians said in the same poll that they would prefer the two nations to have a closed border and a strict visa regime.
When asked about the attitude to their neighbor-nation in general, 33 percent of Russians described their attitude to Ukraine as good and 48 percent of Ukrainians said the same about Russia. Ten years ago these shares were 52 and 83 percent respectively.
Researchers from independent Russian public opinion research center Levada and the Kiev International Sociology Institute, who worked together to conduct the poll, said that the proportion of people who want friendship between Russia and Ukraine remained the same over the past 10 years. This is despite a campaign of anti-Russian propaganda in Ukraine and numerous infringements of Russian speakers rights which have been taking place since the 2014 replacement of the lawfully-elected Ukrainian government with a pro-Western regime in the course of violent protests known as “Maidan.”
One of the more recent official statements concerning relations with Ukraine came from the Russian Foreign Ministry in mid-September, in response to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenkos order to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between the two countries.
In the statement the Russian diplomats said that they believed that relations between Moscow and Kiev would eventually return to normal, but added that this would most likely happen after a change of government in Ukraine and through dialogue with different, more responsible Ukrainian politicians.