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    Record number of Ukrainians support joining EU, backing for NATO membership falls – poll

    (Reuters) - The number of Ukrainians who want their country to join the European Union rose to a record high of 91{5ad0cd663e4180c32b8049fbde12201ec3855e324a84c95f0595f875746ae8b3} by the end of March but support for joining NATO fell, a poll by the Rating research agency showed on Tuesday.

    Support for EU membership mostly has hovered around 60{5ad0cd663e4180c32b8049fbde12201ec3855e324a84c95f0595f875746ae8b3} for the past three years but started climbing steeply after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to Rating, one of Ukraine's main independent pollsters.

    The invasion - the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two - spurred Ukraine to apply for fast-track EU membership, and EU countries have implemented sweeping sanctions on Russia and welcomed refugees fleeing the war.

    Rating said support for Ukraine joining NATO also rose when the war started, but has since returned to near pre-war levels of around 68{5ad0cd663e4180c32b8049fbde12201ec3855e324a84c95f0595f875746ae8b3}.

    The Western military alliance has sent anti-tank and other weapons to Ukraine since the invasion but no troops. It has also rejected calls by Kyiv for an international no-fly zone to protect Ukraine.

    Moscow opposes Ukraine joining NATO. Ukrainian negotiators have signalled Ukraine is willing to give up on joining the alliance and to adopt neutral status in exchange for security guarantees as a way to reach a deal with Russia to end the war.

    Rating surveyed 1,500 adults across Ukraine, but not in Russia-annexed Crimea and eastern areas held by Russia-backed separatists.

    (Reporting by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Timothy Heritage)




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