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Ukrainians Still Oppose NATO After Summit, Poll Says


Many in Ukraine are virulently opposed to NATO membership.

Many in Ukraine are virulently opposed to NATO membership.

KYIV (Reuters) -- Ukrainians remain opposed to NATO membership by a margin of two to one after an alliance summit again turned down Kyiv's bid to secure a fast-track membership program, according to a new poll.

Low support for NATO membership after decades of Soviet-era propaganda aimed at the alliance, plus fierce opposition from Moscow, have been cited by some Western countries as grounds for putting off approval for a Membership Action Plan (MAP).

Constant political turmoil in Ukraine since pro-Western leaders came to power in 2004 also played a role.

The survey, commissioned by Ukraine's Foreign Ministry and conducted by the Institute of Society Transformations with the help of the Norwegian Embassy, showed 30.1 percent of respondents in favor of joining NATO and 59.6 percent opposed. A total of 10.2 provided no answer.

Surveys conducted before the December summit showed broadly similar results -- with figures in favor of membership ranging from 24 to 31 percent.

The latest poll also showed 54.4 percent in favor of Ukraine maintaining a neutral status and 16.8 percent backing a military union with Russia.

Ukraine and ex-Soviet Georgia are both led by pro-Western administrations lobbying hard for entry to the alliance and the European Union.

At a summit last April, member states turned down their request for a MAP but NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said both countries would eventually join the alliance.

European doubts, led by Germany, were intensified by Russia's brief war with Georgia in August and the United States, one of Kyiv's most ardent backers, agreed to find alternative ways of bringing Ukraine closer to the alliance.
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