Ukraine's new governing coalition recently announced its intention to pass a law against joining military alliances, which will fulfill Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's campaign promise to prevent Ukraine from becoming a member in NATO. The new president's opponents in parliament argue that this new strategy may result in pushing Ukraine back into the Russian "sphere of influence" and out of the European fold.
However, Yanukovych's move to ban Ukraine from joining NATO is not without a base of public support. A September 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, found that half of Ukrainians (51%) opposed their country's admission to NATO, while only 28% favored such a step. Moreover, given the opposition to membership, it is not surprising that about half of Ukrainians (51%) gave NATO an unfavorable rating.
Views of membership in NATO vary by ethnicity and region. Ethnic Russians (74%) were far more likely to oppose admission to NATO than ethnic Ukrainians (46%). In terms of regional groupings, respondents living in the East (72%) and South (60%) – where the percentage of Russians tends to be higher than elsewhere in the country – were more likely to oppose joining NATO than were those living in the Central region (51%). And in the West a majority (59%) favored their country becoming part of NATO.
Read the full commentary Ukraine Says 'No' to NATO on the Pew Research Center's Web site.