Vast majority of Europeans continue to approve EU's support for Ukraine, survey finds

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By Euronews
Protestors hold signs and chant during a demonstration outside of an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.
Protestors hold signs and chant during a demonstration outside of an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.   -   Copyright  Olivier Matthys/AP

Despite concerns that Europeans' support for Ukraine after Russia's full-scale invasion of the country might waver over time as the war drags on, a vast majority of citizens across the European Union continue to approve the EU's backing of Kyiv, the latest Eurobarometer survey shows.

Across all member states, those backing the EU's support for Ukraine were in the majority, with countries like Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark reporting the highest percentage of support at respectively 97, 95, 93 and 92 per cent.

In total, across the EU, some 74 per cent of citizens said they approve of the Union's backing of Kyiv since February 24, according to the survey conducted between October 12 and November 7 involving 26,443 respondents.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents also approved of the concrete measure the EU has taken to support Kyiv during the conflict -- including sanctions imposed on Moscow and financial, military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.

The EU has so far imposed eight rounds of sanctions on Russia since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, targeting imports of Russian coal, oil, steel, and wood in addition to a ban on exporting certain high-tech products to Russia in a bid to derail its ability to fund the war.

A ninth package, that aims to target scores of Russian individuals and entities including the armed forces as well as impose restrictions on the exports of Western-made components for drones to Iran and Russia, is currently being negotiated by EU countries.

Despite the widespread support for the EU's backing of Kyiv as the war continue unfolding, some member states have been trying to water down sanctions on Russia. 

Hungary's government has been promoting a "national consultation" on the EU sanctions on Moscow with a poster campaign comparing the sanctions to bombs.

The campaign was denounced by the European Commission, which deemed it "inappropriate".

A similar comparison was previously drawn by Hungary's populist far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who in May said that sanctions on Russian oil would have the effect of a "nuclear bomb" on his country's economy. Orban argues that the sanctions hurt Europe more than Russia.

Inflation across the EU has soared in recent months to record highs, fuelled by skyrocketing energy prices due, in part, to Russia turning off the gas tap to Europe in retaliation for the sanctions. 

Several eurozone countries are meanwhile expected to slip into recession this year, including powerhouse Germany. 

Yet Europeans' support for Ukraine comes with the awareness that the war in the Eastern European country is significantly impacting their lives. Close to two-thirds of respondents to the Eurobarometer survey -- 65 per cent -- said they believe their life will change because of Russia's war in Ukraine and its consequences. That's 4 percentage points more than the numbers reported during the April/May survey.

The conflict in Ukraine has also had an impact on the level of support the EU enjoys in countries like Poland (+11 pp), Latvia (+16 pp), Lithuania (+15 pp), Estonia (+12 pp), the Netherlands (+13 pp) and Malta (+11 pp), where an increased number of citizens said a major benefit of being in the EU was the Union's contribution to maintaining peace and strengthening security.