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What do Ukrainians know about President Zelensky's peace plan?

What do Ukrainians know about President Zelensky's peace plan? © Getty Images

The fact that Ukraine was not invited to NATO at the Alliance summit was not the only foreign policy disappointment of Bankova Street in recent weeks. But if a significant part of Ukrainians shared the frustration after receiving a refusal from NATO together with the authorities, then indulging in this sadness, everyone somehow forgot (and modestly kept silent on the Pechersk Hills) that the officials in Kyiv really wanted to hold another summit before Vilnius – the Global Peace Summit, at which the Peace Formula of President Zelenskyy would be in the spotlight.

No summit, no peace

In fact, they wanted to organize this forum on Bankova Street last winter. After a speech in November last year to the participants of the G20 summit, where the Ukrainian president presented 10 points of his peace plan, already in mid-December, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in one of his evening addresses to the people, shared with his fellow citizens plans to hold a “special summit for the sake of peace” “already this winter”. In mid-January, specifics on this issue appeared: Kyiv expected that the Global Peace Summit would be held in New York in February, on the anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, instead of the Global Summit on February 23, an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was held, at which a resolution was approved that included the main provisions of the peace plan proposed by Ukraine. This resolution was supported by 141 states.

Closer to summer, thanks to both the work of Ukrainian diplomacy and the persistence of President Zelenskyy himself in his intense communication with foreign colleagues, the Ukrainian Formula of Peace was already supported by the G7 countries, the European Union, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. And politicians in the White House have openly and clearly stated that any peace talks regarding the situation in Ukraine must begin with a discussion of the 10-point plan presented by Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

And officials in Kyiv began to prepare for the summit again. Fortunately, a suitable date for this event was found. “Soon 500 days of a full-scale war, it will be in July. And this is a symbolic period of time. After all, this is a good month to gather representatives of the Formula Peace Summit – the World Majority Summit. A summit of all those who respect honesty and want to end this war,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited everyone, speaking on May 21 at a summit called “Towards a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous World” with the participation of the G7 countries, Ukraine and partners.

The 500th day of the “big war” almost coincided with the NATO summit, to which not only members of the Alliance were invited, that is, it could be expected that representatives of the democratic world who had gathered in Europe would visit not only Vilnius, but also Copenhagen, where it was proposed to hold a peace summit. And since it was conceived as a “global” one, it would be highly desirable to involve the countries of the “global South” in it as well. Moreover, as one of the Swedish top diplomats admitted, the European partners of Ukraine do not at all want this part of the planet to be dominated by the proposals of China, repeating Russian narratives, so the summit should be held in order for “the Ukrainian point of view to receive a platform and more attention for foreign partners in the international arena.” And European emissaries traveled around the world to convince representatives of the "global South" to take part in the summit and support Zelensky's Peace Formula. At the same time, according to The Wall Street Journal, European officials are also working with Kyiv on the Ukrainian peace plan to make it more acceptable to other world countries, in particular India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and China. At the same time, against the backdrop of the emergence of various "peace plans", including the development of a peaceful plan, which is influenced by the interests of Russia, the conceived peace forum, according to the WSJ, aims to "return Ukraine and its allies to the center of international diplomacy." That is why European officials are "seeking to ensure that Kyiv's plan is taken as a diplomatic guide during future negotiations."

However, the task turned out to be difficult. And already in early June, Zelenskyy said that it would take more time to prepare the summit: “I think it is important to wait to achieve that the number of countries that we need to take part in the summit. After all, we need results.” According to the president, the summit will take place when several states, in particular China, Brazil and India, are ready.

So, as a result, not a peace summit took place in Copenhagen, but only a meeting on its preparation at the level of security advisers, where Andrii Yermak represented Ukraine. As one senior European official told reporters, countries outside the Group of Seven (G7) believe that "more work needs to be done to have a summit at the end of the year."

But although Volodymyr Zelenskyy outwardly radiated optimism, telling reporters that the meeting in Denmark at the level of advisers was “successful and very positive,” his forecast for the summit confirmed the extraordinary acting skills of our president: “I know that within a month or two there will be a second meeting at the same level, at which, we believe, there will be an agreement on the date and place of the summit.”

Plans, Funding, Territories — People!  How to create Ukraine Plan that will be backed by EU’s 50 billion.
Plans, Funding, Territories — People! How to create Ukraine Plan that will be backed by EU’s 50 billion.

Apparently, High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell suspected something, not without reason, saying that “it will be a lot of work for the European External Action Service (EEAS)”, as well as for him personally, “to achieve support for Ukraine around the world, support for a just, honest and lasting peace.”

As shown last week by the meeting of the G20 finance ministers in India and the European Union summit with the countries of the Commonwealth of Latin America and the Caribbean, where a serious split was obvious (the West and the South, after heated debates, again did not find a common language in their assessments of Russia’s war against Ukraine), the work on President Zelensky’s Peace Formula with the representatives of the “global South” will be no less global.

But, it turns out, not only with them ...

Unexpected results of a sociological survey

Preparing for the peace summit planned for July (and then still not knowing about its postponement indefinitely), we decided to ask the opinion of Ukrainians about the peace plan of President Zelenskyy as part of the ZN.UA social survey, commissioned by the Razumkov Center.

Just imagine our amazement when it turned out that in total more than half of our fellow citizens – 56% – have no idea about the content of the peace plan of the president of their country: at the same time, 28.4% have even heard about it for the first time (!). Well, 27.6% of respondents only know that such a plan exists. Another 29.4% of people answered that they were familiar with the content of the plan “in general terms”. And only 14.4% of Ukrainians reported that they know all 10 of his points.

After such answers, it became clear why only 13% of those who took part in the survey, as we already wrote, chose from the proposed options as an acceptable result of future negotiations between Ukraine and Russia “the implementation by Russia of all points of the peace plan of President Zelenskyy.” It is also worth noting that the majority (62.9%) of respondents preferred "the return of all territories by Ukraine and the restoration of sovereignty within the borders as of 1991." Although this is only one of the paragraphs in the formula that is much broader and more demanding on the aggressor, developed by President Zelenskyy. It turns out that the majority of the population of Ukraine is simply unfamiliar with it!

It is clear that information in this regard is directed primarily to our foreign partners. After all, it is extremely important for Ukraine that it be supported by as many states as possible, namely in the West, and in the East, and in the North, and in the South. However, how could it be so neglected to familiarize their own population with this important issue?! As a result of distortions in the information work of the presidential team, today Ukrainians understand the healing properties of medical cannabis much better than the important points of the Zelenskyy Peace Formula. How can one promote the Ukrainian Formula of Peace on the world stage, which is little known in Ukraine itself?

But on the other hand, there is a question for the Ukrainians: how, having lived in the conditions of a large-scale war for the second year, can one not take an interest in the content of the peace plan proposed by the Ukrainian authorities on all international platforms? What if, under the loud name “Zelensky’s Formula”, it would turn out to be something like the Minsk agreements? No? It can not be so? Are you sure about this?

Then let us remind those who have already forgotten about the “peace formula from Arakhamia and Chaly”, approved by presidential directives. In March last year in Istanbul, the Ukrainian delegation headed by Davyd Arakhamia, after negotiations with the Russians, announced Ukraine's readiness to fix the status of a "non-bloc and non-nuclear state of permanent neutrality." In addition, representatives of the delegation said that they were ready to undertake obligations “not to deploy foreign military bases, foreign military contingents on their territory, not to enter into military-political alliances” and “for 15 years to conduct bilateral negotiations on the status of Crimea and Sevastopol separately.” In addition, it was said that while negotiations were going on, "military or armed forces would not be used to resolve the issue of Crimea." As for Russian-occupied territories of Ukrain, the issue of their "status" was proposed to be "put in a separate paragraph, which will be considered within the framework of negotiations between the presidents of Ukraine and the Russian Federation."

Now do you remember? Yes, a lot has changed since then – both the situation on the fronts and the position of the authorities, but the control of citizens over its intentions and decisions must always remain vigilant.

Yes, the current peace plan of Kyiv is not ashamed to show and not afraid to promote in the international arena. And those Ukrainians who are familiar with this document (well, at least in general terms) support the Peace Formula of the president of their country: completely – 78.3% of respondents, only some points – 16.9% of Ukrainians. And those who do not support and at least know something about this plan are only 0.6% of Ukrainians.

What is the most important thing in the Peace Formula for Ukrainians

Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not take part in our survey. But he repeatedly said in his speeches that it is important for Ukraine not only to end hostilities, but to restore territorial integrity, sovereignty, return Ukrainians and children abducted by Russia from Russian captivity, and also punish Russian killers for war crimes. “These are the main things that unite all of us,” the president believes. And, as the results of sociological research have shown, the people in the choice of priorities are in many ways in solidarity with him.

After being asked to select up to three answer options and providing the main important information on this issue, we asked the Ukrainians what three points of President Zelensky's peace plan they consider the most important to implement?

More than a third of our citizens (34.7%) are sure that all points are equally important.

Nevertheless, the first place was expectedly given to item No. 6 – "Withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, restoration of the state border of Ukraine with Russia": it was chosen by 37.9% of respondents.

As we have already mentioned, Zelensky's formula is focused more on foreign countries, therefore it is built in such a way that its first three positions are radiation and nuclear safety; food security; energy security are the most important and interesting for our partners. However, due to the even more frequent recent nuclear threats voiced by the Russian Federation and the aggravation of the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, a third of Ukrainians (33%) called the first point of the Kyiv peace plan – nuclear security – the most important.

But the following two points, which ranked eighth and seventh among respondents, are clearly not in the main priorities of Ukrainians: only 8.1% of respondents chose food security, 10.9% of people chose energy security. And this is quite understandable. It is difficult to worry about the fate of the “starving children of Africa”, giving birth in a bomb shelter or covering a child with her own body from shell fragments. It is impossible to worry about the rise in food prices in Asia and Africa, having lost everything – namely, a home, a job, a livelihood, and very often, someone from relatives. And there is absolutely no time to think about the fate of the grain corridors, delivering bread and water to the Kherson region or taking out the bleeding heroes defending our land from the combat zone. No, we all understand that this item must be included in the Ukrainian plan in order to explain to the rest of the planet, including representatives of the “global South”, how important the return of peace to Ukraine is. The main thing is that the rest of the planet understands that this peace must be fair and lasting. And Ukrainians should be explained that the export of grain is not only a concern for the hungry in other countries: Ukraine now urgently needs foreign exchange earnings, replenishment of the budget, the funds that will be spent on the needs of our army, which is actively fighting the enemy.

After the blackouts of last winter and the unimpressive forecasts for the coming winter, one would certainly be surprised at the little attention Ukrainians have paid to energy security in Zelensky’s peace plan. But, firstly, having bought generators and starlinks, power banks and solar panels, firewood and potbelly stoves, led lamps, accumulators, batteries and candles, and survived the past winter, Ukrainians are sure that they will survive the coming winter. And secondly, the famous idea that you can always find a way out of the situation was first uttered by the Ukrainians, and then Jaroslav Hašek wrote down.

For Ukrainians today, it is much more important (and this was shown by the results of the study) – the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the confirmation of its borders with the Russian Federation in accordance with the United Nations Charter: point No. 5 in Zelensky's plan was named a priority by 27.5% of respondents.

More than one in five Ukrainians (22%), choosing the three most important points in the presidential Peace Formula, noted the release of all prisoners and deportees to Russia. People chose this important point because our victory will be incomplete if hundreds of thousands of compatriots cannot celebrate it with us in their homeland, and the aggressor continues to destroy the national identity of the deported Ukrainian children. After all, even inactive and pretending that they see nothing, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representatives saw in this "elements of a crime against humanity" and Russia's attempts to "change the demographic composition of Ukraine by force and forever." It was for the deportation of Ukrainian children that the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the President of the Russian Federation, Putin.

But Ukrainians, apparently, have little faith the judicial system and the restoration of justice: only 18.7% of respondents chose item No.7 of the Formula of Peace. It also implies the creation of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine. In addition, it also means the creation of an international mechanism for compensating the aggressor for all losses caused to our country and its citizens by this war. Whether the domestic judicial system has so undermined the faith of Ukrainians in justice and fairness. Or the results of an investigation into the nine-year-old tragedy – the downing of flight MH-17 by Russians and the decision of the Hague District Court, which never reached Putin and the top leadership of the Russian Federation. Or the "decisiveness" and "activity" of our Western partners in search of a mechanism for transferring the frozen assets of the Russian Federation to Ukraine...

The attitude of Ukrainians towards the last three points of the peace plan of President Zelenskyy surprised in some ways and upset in some ways. No, the low level of environmental awareness of our population has not become something new and unusual: we all see filthy forest belts along roadsides, heaps of garbage on forest edges, every autumn and spring we breathe in the smoke of burning leaves and grass. Our compatriots have a passion for burning, which neither social advertising nor the threat of administrative or even criminal punishment can overcome. But only 3.1% in front of paragraph No. 8 of the Peace Formula – "Prevention of ecocide, the need to protect the environment" – frankly upset. And such a result of the survey – after the ecological catastrophe as a result of the explosion of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant? After millions of hectares of Ukrainian forests burned as a result of the war and millions of dead animals, both domestic and wild? With such an attitude towards environmental issues, do we want to join the European Union with its “green transition” and obsession with ecology?

Somewhat surprised by the other results. For some reason, point No. 10 – fixing the end of the war, including a document signed by all parties – was chosen by twice as many respondents (14.6%) as point No. 9 – preventing escalation, building a security architecture, including security guarantees for Ukraine – which was named by only 7% of survey participants.

No, we do not at all want to say that an end-of-war treaty is unnecessary, that this is an extra point in the plan. We just want to remind you of a well-known truth: not a single treaty with Russia is worth the paper on which it is written. Therefore, in our opinion, security guarantees for Ukraine, and preferably in the form of NATO membership, are much more important than another piece of paper signed with officials in Moscow.

After all, half of Ukrainians (50%) are sure that Russia will always be a threat to Ukraine. And only 9.4% of respondents believe that our aggressive northern neighbor will ever be able to become a nuclear-free democratic country with a market economy, only every fifth Ukrainian (21.1%) admits that Russia will not threaten our country when it breaks up into several independent states.

Summing up the results of our study, we emphasize: yes, we have the right to demand from partners to seek an end to Russia's aggression and the return of peace and justice to Ukraine on the basis of the Ukrainian plan, namely the Peace Formula of President Zelenskyy. But for its implementation, the Ukrainians themselves need to realize the importance and necessity of each of its points.

All the data mentioned in the text are the results of a sociological survey by the Razumkov Center. The survey commissioned by ZN.UA was conducted from June 23 to June 28, 2023 using the face-to-face method in 22 regions of Ukraine and Kyiv. Also, 2018 respondents aged 18 years and over were interviewed. The theoretical sampling error does not exceed 2.3%.

Read this article in russian and Ukrainian.

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