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Only 10% of Europeans believe Ukraine can still defeat Russia: Poll

Ukrainian troops drive a tank on a road near the front line in the Donetsk region on June 5, 2023.(Photo by AFP)

Only 10 percent of Europeans believe Ukraine can still defeat Russia, according to a new EU-wide survey, almost two years after Moscow launched a military operation against the former Soviet state.

The poll was conducted in January in 12 EU member states – including France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

According to the poll published by The Guardian on Wednesday, It found that only one in 10 Europeans across the 12 countries surveyed believed Ukraine would win on the battlefield, while twice as many (20%) predicted a Russian victory.

It also said support for Ukraine among Europeans remains broad, but most of them no longer believe that Kiev must go on with its "counteroffensive" to capture its territories.

Instead, the Europeans demand that politicians take a more “realistic” approach that focuses on defining what an acceptable peace must actually mean, it said.

Even in the most optimistic member states surveyed – Poland, Sweden, and Portugal – fewer than one in five (17%) believed Kiev could prevail.

The polling also showed that in all countries, the most common opinion, shared by an average of 37 percent of respondents, was that the war would end in a compromise settlement.

Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive, growing fears of a US policy shift, and the prospect of a second US presidential term for Donald Trump were almost among the factors fueling pessimism about the war’s outcome, the survey revealed.

The report also said Europeans were not in a “heroic mood”, or even optimistic about the situation. But, it said, Europeans’ commitment to preventing a Russian victory had not moved.

Co-author Mark Leonard of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), which commissioned the polling, noted that “In order to make the case for continued European support for Ukraine, EU leaders will need to change how they talk about the war.”

Most Europeans “are desperate to prevent a Russian victory” but do not believe Kiev can win militarily, Leonard said.

Ivan Krastev, the report’s other co-author, who is chair of the Sofia-based Centre for Liberal Strategies thinktank, also said a Russian victory “is not peace,” adding that “If the price of ending the war is turning Ukraine into a no man’s land, this will be a defeat not only for Kiev but for Europe and its security.”

The latest development comes as Russia has announced it has taken “full control” of the key Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, making it Moscow’s most significant territorial gain since they seized the eastern city of Bakhmut last May.

Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining US-led NATO.

Since then, the United States and Ukraine's other allies have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems.

Western countries have also imposed a slew of economic sanctions on Moscow. The Kremlin has said the sanctions and the Western military assistance will only prolong the war.

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