The Demise of Ukraine’s “Eurasian Vector” and the Rise of Pro-NATO Sentiment

Before 2014, the majority of Ukrainians did not view the goal of European integration as
a “national idea.” Even so, most Ukrainians had positive views about developing
relations with and integrating into the EU. And even though former Ukrainian president
Viktor Yanukovych refused to accept the idea of joining NATO, he officially maintained
EU integration as a priority. In fact, the Yanukovych administration helped finalize and
initialed the text of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Yanukovych’s sudden
refusal to actually sign it, under Russian pressure, was the spark that set off the mass
protests in late 2013 that would become the Euromaidan revolution. The success of the
Euromaidan and the ensuing long-awaited signing of the Association Agreement
signaled a shift among Ukrainians at both the national and regional level in favor of the
EU. In addition, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukrainians came to favor joining
NATO for the first time since independence. Simultaneously, support plummeted for
Ukraine’s “Eurasia vector,” i.e., joining Russia-led institutions like the Customs
Union/Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).3

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