Poland and Poles as seen by Ukrainians 2024

Commissioned by the Mieroszewski Centre, the Ukrainian public opinion research agency Info Sapiens conducted a nationwide telephone survey from 11-19 January 2024, measuring Ukrainian attitudes towards Poland following the ongoing blockade of the Polish-Ukrainian border by representatives of the Polish transport sector since November 2023.

The research revealed a clear change in the attitudes of Ukrainians over the last quarter. Indeed, a survey conducted in October 2023 by the Mieroszewski Centre and Info Sapiens indicated that 67% of Ukrainians had a good opinion of Poles and 1% had a bad opinion. Three months later, the percentage of Ukrainians having a good opinion of Poles decreased to 44.5%, while the percentage of respondents having a bad opinion increased to 9%. Detailed results show that the opinion of Poles has deteriorated much more in the east of Ukraine (18%) than in other regions of the country, where the percentage of those with a negative opinion of Poles oscillates between 5.5% and 10%.

Overall, the prevalence of positive evaluations of Poles over negative ones has decreased from sixty-seven times to five times. At the same time, 31% of Ukrainians declared that their opinion of Poles had improved after the start of the full-scale war with Russia (in October 40%), while 13% said that this opinion had worsened (in October 2023 - 3%). 

The reason for such a noticeable change in public sentiment was clearly the information about the border blockade - as nothing else has happened in Polish-Ukrainian relations that could so significantly affect public sentiment. In the survey, 58% of Ukrainians declared that they had heard a lot about the blockade and another 38% that they had heard a little. Of those who declared that they had heard a lot or a little, only 11% indicated that the border was being blocked by representatives of the Polish transport sector, 25% indicated that it was farmers (who were also blocking periodically), 12% that it was the Polish authorities (government or president), 10% that it was "Poles", 23% pointed to forces acting on behalf of Russia (19% agents, 4% a pro-Russian party), and 3% that it was the Ukrainian government or "Ukrainians" and a further 3% that it was Polish customs officers or activists;

When confronted with the choice of who was most responsible for the border blockade, Ukrainian respondents indicated the actions or negligence of the Polish government, the negligence of the European Commission, Ukraine or the negligence of all of these actors, with the latter being the answer given by the largest number of respondents - 38%. The responsibility of the Polish authorities was indicated by 24% of respondents, with an additional 4% indicating factors such as Poland's economic interests or actions dictated by fatigue with Ukrainian refugees. In turn, Ukrainian authorities were attributed responsibility for the crisis by 8% of respondents, while European authorities were attributed responsibility by 10% and the influence of Russia by 7%.

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