Russian and EU powers of attraction

Commentary

Does the eastern neighbourhood want to join forces with Russia, be part of the EU or go it alone?

The following post is part of Nicu Popescu's EUobserver blog.  

Here is an interesting opinion poll (Eurasia Monitor) where post-Soviet publics are asked whether they prefer integration into the EU, the union of Russia/Belarus/Ukraine/Kazakhstan or independence without integration with any such entities. The results broadly confirm some of the findings from our recent ECFR report on Russian and European neighbourhood policies which argues that EU soft power in the region is not uncontested.

Among the more interesting results are (see page 35 of this opinion poll):

  • Georgia comes first in pro-EU sentiment with 36% being in favour of integration with the EU. But it also comes first in pro-independence sentiment with 48% (not willing to join any integrationist blocks). Unsurprisingly only 3% want integration into a Russian-led Union.
  • Moldova comes second in pro-EU sentiment with 33% in favour of joining the EU (with 26% in favour of joining a Russian-led union). Among the post-Soviet states, Moldova also has the lowest degree of support for its own ‘full independence' (20%).
  • In Belarus, interestingly enough 23% want integration with Russia, while 20% want integration into the EU (and 28% want full independence). It is almost surprising that almost as the number of Belarusians that want integration into the EU and integration with Russia is almost equal.
  • In Ukraine - 20% want integration into the EU and 34% integration into a Russia-Ukraine-Belarus-Kazakhstan union (and 12% back into the USSR), while 23% want full ‘nezalezhnost' (independence).
  • In Russia 36% don't want any integration with other states or groups of states, while 20% want the restoration of USSR and 15% want a union with Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Thus Russia itself is split between a go-it-alone attitude and a desire to reintegrate some of its former periphery.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, in Latvia (and EU member state) only 31% want integration into the EU (10% integration with Russia) and 35% want full independence. Thus pro-EU sentiment in Latvia is lower than in Georgia and Moldova.

The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. This commentary, like all publications of the European Council on Foreign Relations, represents only the views of its authors.

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