Back on February 8, 2014, twelve days before the Kiev massacre which led to President Yanukovych fleeing to Russia, Jack Matlock who served as Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to Moscow wrote very presciently, “Ukraine’s most serious problems are internal, not external. They must be solved by Ukrainians, not by outsiders. … I believe it has been a very big strategic mistake – by Russia, by the EU and most of all by the U.S. – to convert Ukrainian political and economic reform into an East-West struggle.” A recent poll confirms Ambassador Matlock’s perspective.
Overseen by Dr. Steven Kull of the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, the poll shows that, “The approach that elicits the most consensus is for Ukraine to affirm a neutral position.” Hence the title of this post: Maybe the US could best help in resolving the Ukrainian crisis not – as many in Congress want to do – by sending weapons to the current government to bind it more tightly to the West, but by backing off and letting things cool down a bit.
The poll has a number of other surprising results, and I strongly recommend reading the full article. Examples include:
… large majorities in all regions of the country, including the East, want to preserve the unity of Ukraine. Even in the rebel-held areas of the Donbass only 4 in 10 favor secession …
Putin is not popular: 79 percent disapprove of how he is dealing with the crisis, including 72 percent in the South and 53 percent in the East. … Large majorities reject his claim that Russia has a right to intervene to protect Russian speakers—87 percent overall, 90 percent in the South and two-thirds in the East. Russian speakers themselves overwhelmingly reject this proposition. …
The approach that elicits the most consensus is for Ukraine to affirm a neutral position. … Overall 63 percent say they can tolerate a neutral position.
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