Ukraine Poll Sends Worrying Message to Zelensky

Ukrainians are growing more and more skeptical about the direction of their country, according to a recent poll by Ukrainian think tank Razumkov Center.

In the study published Wednesday, around 41 percent of citizens said that they believe Ukraine is “developing in the right direction,” 38 percent felt it’s heading in the “wrong direction,” and 21 percent were undecided. The poll is based on the responses of 2,000 Ukrainian adults surveyed face-to-face by the Razumkov Center from January 19 to January 25.

Wednesday’s results show a decline from a similar survey conducted last year, when 61 percent of citizens in March said they were happy with the direction that Ukraine was headed. That figure depicted the highest level of support recorded by the center. Following the February 24, 2022, onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, the share of citizens who believed that Ukraine was headed in the right direction soared to 51 percent in October 2022, compared to 21 percent in December 2021.

The areas of Ukraine that citizens said have deteriorated over the past year include prices and tariffs, the economy, stability levels in the country, the well-being of families, the attitude of citizens toward Ukrainian authorities and the confidence that citizens have in “tomorrow.” Around 61 percent of respondents said that conditions in the county “as a whole” have deteriorated.

Respondents did point to some positives in Ukraine over the past year. Around 51 percent said that they saw improvements to the country’s defense capabilities, and another 50 percent said the country’s “international image” had been elevated.

Newsweek reached out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s office via email for comment on Thursday night.

The polling results come days after Zelensky hinted that a major shake-up in Ukraine’s government was necessary to reignite Kyiv’s defenses against Moscow. In an interview Sunday with Italian outlet Rai News, the Ukrainian leader said that “a reset, a new beginning” for his country was “necessary.”

“I have something serious in mind, which is not about a single person but about the direction of the country’s leadership,” Zelensky added.

Questions have been raised about the future of Ukraine’s Armed Forces after Zelensky indicated that he was looking to fire Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, after months of public disagreements between the two. Zelensky appears to be holding off on letting Zaluzhnyi go at the moment, however, according to Ukrainian officials familiar with the matter who spoke with The New York Times.

Support for Zelensky among his citizens has also dropped throughout the war in Ukraine. The Kyiv International Institute for Sociology found in a survey published at the end of 2023 that support for the president had dropped from 84 percent in December 2022 to 62 percent a year later.

In the same poll, 88 percent of respondents said they trusted Zaluzhnyi, and another 96 percent said they supported Kyiv’s armed forces.