Staunton, March 15 – The share of Russians who consider the annexation of Crimea to be useful has fall from 67 percent in the spring of 2015 to 39 percent now, according to the results of a Public Opinion Foundation poll released on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s signature achievement, the Crimean Anschluss (https://fom.ru/Politika/14182).
And while the percentage saying that this action was harmful rose only from five percent to seven percent, those saying that the pluses and minuses were nearly equal rose from 15 percent in 2015 to 39 percent now, hardly the verdict the Kremlin would like Russians to have on this event.
According to the Newsru agency, sociologists say that this pattern reflects the fact that even those who passionately supported Putin’s actions early on have begun to feel the impact of sanctions and of Moscow’s spending on Crimea rather than on the needs of the rest of the country (newsru.com/russia/15mar2019/krym_worse.html).
The scholars with whom Newsru consulted say that “the initial euphoria from the annexation of Crimea led to a growth of collective self-assessment, pride, patriotic self-respect, and at the same time to ‘the growth of unaccountable concerts and a cloudy understanding that the growing confrontation between Russia and the US and Russia and NATO can lead to the outbreak of a real major war.”
As a result, they say, Russians overwhelmingly now want normal relations with the West rather than the current hostile standoff. A year ago, about half of Russians wanted improved ties with the US and the West; now 79 percent do, an indication that the positive feelings Russians may have had about the Crimean Anschluss are now overwhelmed by the impact of sanctions.