Do Crimeans actually want to join Russia?

The picture of political identity in Ukraine that emerges is one of tremendous variation in the degree of commitment to Ukraine as a state. Figure 1 goes to the heart of the issue. Asked an open-ended question about where respondents considered their “homeland” to be, Crimeans, unlike easterners or other southerners, showed fairly little affiliation with the Ukrainian state. More than half of Crimean respondents replied by naming Crimea, while almost no one else mentioned their own region. Some 35 percent of Crimeans did volunteer Ukraine, and while allegiance to Ukraine was higher — around 50 percent — among ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars living in Crimea, these figures were considerably below the support in eastern Ukraine. In short, levels of attachment to Ukraine in Crimea are noticeably out of line with the rest of the country.

However, it is worth noting that only only 1 percent of Crimeans mentioned Russia as a homeland and only 10 percent mentioned the Soviet Union. This suggests that even though Crimeans have much stronger pro-Russian geo-political preferences than other Ukrainians (see Figure 2) these preferences did not translate into a strong emotional identification with Russia. Moreover, in a more recent Razumkov Center survey (from December 21-25 2013), while substantial minorities endorsed either Crimean independence (35 percent) or joining “another state” (29 percent), a majority (56 percent was opposed to either of the political options involving Crimea’s separation from Ukraine