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Poll: Zelensky's star fading among NATO countries

Poll: Zelensky's star fading among NATO countries

After two and a half years of war, a growing number wonder whether Ukraine's leader is doing 'the right thing'

Reporting | Europe

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which will mark its 75th anniversary at next week’s summit in Washington DC, retains strong support among its constituent nations, according to a new poll of 13 member states released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

A median of 63% of respondents across the 13 nations said they had a positive view of NATO, while a median of 33% said they had a negative opinion of the Brussels-based organization. The most positive views were found in Poland (91%), the Netherlands (75%), and Sweden (72%), which only joined the alliance in March, making it the organization’s newest member.

The most negative views were found in Greece (37% positive) and Spain (45%). Only 42% of Turkish respondents said they had a positive view of NATO, but that was double the level of support for the alliance since Pew last polled the country in 2018.

The new poll, which was conducted from January to May as part of a much larger multinational survey of over 44,000 respondents in 35 NATO and non-NATO countries worldwide, also found a marked decline in confidence in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “to do the right thing regarding world affairs” compared to last year.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two-and-a-half years ago, NATO member states have provided tens of billions of dollars in economic and military aid to support Kyiv’s war effort, and Zelensky’s leadership was given significant credit for rallying that support.

But as it became clear that Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter-offensive failed to live up to hopeful expectations and Russia seemed to regain the upper hand, confidence in the Kyiv’s leadership among the NATO publics, particularly in Europe, appeared to falter.

That decline was most striking in neighboring Poland, where confidence in Zelensky “to do the right thing regarding world affairs” fell from 70% to 48%. Less dramatic, but nonetheless remarkable, confidence in Zelensky fell by around seven percentage points in the Netherlands (from 73% to 66%), Germany (61% to 54%), Spain (55% to 48%), France (50% to 43%), and Sweden (86% to 80%).

Polling in four countries showed splits in views about whether their country is providing too much, too little, or the right amount of support for Kyiv in the war. Perhaps reflecting the decline in support for Zelensky, only six percent of Polish respondents said their government was providing “not enough” support. The rest of Polish respondents were evenly split between the “right amount” and “too much.”

Respondents from Hungary and Turkey – both of which, unlike most NATO members, have retained relatively friendly relations with Russia since the war began, were also split. In Hungary, which has provided very little aid to Ukraine, 61 percent of respondents said their government had provided “about the right amount” and another 21% said it was “too much.” In Turkey, which provided critical drones to Ukraine early in the war, 46% said it was “about the right amount, 16% said it was too much, and 20% said it was “not enough.”

As for the U.S., which has provided the most military aid of all NATO members by far, opinions were roughly evenly split – 24% of respondents said the support was “not enough,” 25% said “about the right amount,” and 31% said it was too much. Of those who said it was “too much,” 51% identified themselves as “conservatives,” while only 13% of self-identified liberals said Washington had provided “too much.”

That difference was also reflected in views toward NATO. Nearly four out of five self-identified liberals in the U.S. said they held a positive view of the alliance, while only 41% of self-identified conservatives agreed.

Conversely, in Greece and Spain, two countries with the least favorable views of NATO, found that people who identified politically with the right in their countries were much more likely than those on the left to say their views of NATO were positive. The same pattern applied to Swedish respondents.

Biden should take the public's temperature on Ukraine War
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