Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Growing War Weariness in Russia: Majority Now Wants Moscow to Pull Out of Syria

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 6 – Despite the wave of hurrah patriotism the Russian authorities have whipped up in advance of the celebration of Victory Day, a new Levada Center poll shows that 55 percent of Russians want Moscow to end the war in Syria as soon as possible, up from 49 percent two years ago (levada.ru/2019/05/06/sobytiya-v-sirii/).

            Perhaps more significant, the share of Russians who think Moscow’s operations in Syria could turn into a new Afghanistan, a war from which the Soviet Union had to retreat triggering forces that cost Moscow its empire foreign and domestic, has risen from 32 to 37 percent over the same period. Only 30 percent favor continuing the fighting to a victorious conclusion. 

            And even more indicative of the direction things are moving as far as Russian public opinion is concerned are two other figures: While 53 percent still support Moscow’s approach in Syria, 35 percent now say they do not approve of state policy there at all, and the share following events in Syra has fallen from 86 percent a year ago to only 61 percent now.

            If Vladimir Putin expected a bounce for his use of force in Syria in any way equivalent to that he received after his Anschluss of Ukraine’s Crimea, these poll numbers suggest he was sadly mistaken, that Russians are not all that interested in that conflict, and that ever more of them are against it and against Moscow’s policies there.

            Anna Sedova, a Svobodnaya pressa journalist, spoke with two Moscow experts about what this poll shows.  Denis Volkov, deputy director of the Levada Center, said that in part these shifts reflect a decline in media coverage of the conflict after its active stage concluded and the regime’s failure to explain why Russian forces are there (svpressa.ru/war21/article/232155/).

            And Pavel Salin, head of the Center for Political Research at the government’s Finance University, suggested that some Russians are upset about the government spending money for foreign wars when their own economic conditions are deteriorating, although he suggested that connecting these two things is only beginning.

            “If Russians were to trace the connection between spending on the Syrian campaign and their own economic situation,” Salin said, “the number of opponents of the continuation of the operation in Syria would be much larger.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment