Monday, August 27, 2018

Russians Increasingly Disenchanted with Putin’s Foreign Policy, New Poll Suggests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 27 – It has long been an axiom of Western analysis that Russians overwhelmingly support Vladimir Putin’s actions abroad and that actions abroad are thus for him a resource he can always make use of and that any slippage in his standing among his population is a result of unhappiness about domestic affairs.

            But a new poll by the Public Opinion Foundation casts doubt on such assumptions. It finds, in the words of Politsovet, that “the number of people who consider the foreign policy of the leadership of the country successful has fallen sharply” and that “ever more Russians consider too much attention is being devoted to foreign policy” ( and

            That does not mean that Putin might not conclude that he could use a foreign policy move to boost his ratings or step their fall given Russian euphoria after the Crimean Anschluss. But what it does suggest is that he can be less confident of a similar boost with some similar action in the future.

            In this poll, respondents were asked “In your opinion, have there been more successes or failures in the foreign policy of Russia recently?” Just over half – 52 percent – said there were more successes than failures, a figure down from 64 percent at the start of 2017.  Almost a quarter – 23 percent – give the opposite answer, up from 15 percent 20 months ago.

            The pollsters also asked Russians whether they thought that the authorities were devoting too much or too little attention to foreign policy.  A third – 34 percent – said that the powers that be were devoting too much attention, up from 28 percent in early 2017. The share of those with the contrary view now stands at 39 percent, down from 48 percent in the earlier poll.

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