Dhe Ukrainian leadership around President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is inflexible. She keeps saying that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine could not be the subject of negotiations with Russia. The offensive of the Ukrainian army shows how serious it is about liberating the territories occupied by Russia.
In this question white Zelenskyj all relevant political forces in Ukraine behind them. And not only them, but also a very large majority of Ukrainians, according to a new study by three Oxford University political scientists.
According to a representative survey conducted in July, 79 percent of Ukrainians would not accept a solution to the conflict that would lead to one of Russia controlled government - regardless of what sacrifices the defensive struggle still demands. The remaining 21 percent are also unwilling to acquiesce to Russian demands, but they attach greater importance to the country's territorial integrity and are willing to make political concessions on condition that territorial integrity is restored in return.
It was not possible to ask everywhere
These clear values came as a surprise to them, say Janina Dill and Carl Müller-Crepon, who designed the survey and summarized their results together with Marnie Howlett in an as yet unpublished working paper that is available to the FAZ. For the studies, employees of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology interviewed 1,160 people in mid-July in all parts of Ukraine where the security situation permitted. Excluded were Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Kharkiv and Crimea, which were wholly or partially Russian-occupied, as well as Mykolaiv and Sumy, which were under constant fire, and security concerns arose during the interrogation.
The survey took the form of face-to-face interviews with interviewers. These presented the respondents with eight possible scenarios for the next three months of the war. These would lead to different political outcomes, with varying degrees of risk and sacrifice. The assumption was that greater concessions to Russia would mean fewer casualties among Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, and a smaller risk of nuclear escalation.
The very real possibility, given the actions of the attackers, that concessions could lead to even greater suffering for the population was deliberately not mentioned in the scenario. Respondents should put themselves in the government's shoes and decide.
No "Suicide Mission"
Researchers expected people to make a cost-benefit analysis. However, that was not the case. Almost all interviewees considered political autonomy and territorial integrity to be such fundamental values that for them the struggle justifies all the sacrifices. There were only differences in the weighting of these values: 79 percent are categorically against making concessions on sovereignty. If necessary, they are willing to accept losses of territory in order to preserve their independence.
On the other hand, 21 percent would be willing to make political concessions if the territorial integrity destroyed by Russia in 2014 were restored. "But the Ukrainians are not on a suicide mission," says Janina Dill. If people were only presented with scenarios in which the loss of independence and territory was unavoidable, then the assumed number of victims became a key decision-making criterion.
Gender, age, level of education, and social status had no influence on the attitudes of the respondents. Among people who speak Russian in everyday life, the will to defend Ukraine unconditionally was somewhat weaker - just enough to be statistically measurable: Among them, about 75 percent support fighting the aggressor at all costs. So there is no fundamental difference between the Russian speakers, with whose defense the Russian regime justifies its war of aggression, and the Ukrainian-speaking majority when it comes to self-defense.
Message to western intellectuals
The study also examined whether it also has an effect if someone is directly affected by the war. People were also interviewed in areas in northern Ukraine that were fought over and occupied from late February to early April. As with the Russian speakers, the propensity for unconditional resistance is somewhat lower among them – again just enough to be measurable.
The impetus for the study came from demands by Western intellectuals that Ukraine should stop its fight against the aggressor in order to avoid further suffering of the population. The authors of the study take the argument from these appeals seriously that even a just defensive war can become unjust if it demands disproportionate sacrifices. However, they consider it essential, both for fundamental and pragmatic reasons, to give a voice in this discussion to those who have to live with the consequences of the decision to give up or continue the fight - the Ukrainians. "It is irresponsible and immoral to make such a cost-benefit calculation from afar," says Janina Dill. "And it's politically unwise, because the sustainability of a strategy also depends on whether it is supported by the population."