Saturday, June 15, 2019

As Russians Focus on Domestic Problems, Their Hostility to US and Ukraine Falls, Levada Center Poll Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – A new Levada Center poll finds that Russians’ antipathy toward the US and Ukraine has fallen significantly over the last year while their attitudes toward immediate neighbors have improved, the result in large measure, experts say, of declines in Russian interest in geopolitics and increases in their attention to domestic problems.

            The poll found that negative attitudes toward the US and Ukraine have fallen sharply over the past 12 months from 78 percent to 67 percent and 49 percent to 40 percent respectively, while positive views of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan have all increased (

            When Russians feel they are isolated, Levada Center director Lev Gudkov says, they look to those nearby whom they feel closer to. As for Ukraine and the US, the shift in attitudes reflects both lack of news about violence in Ukraine and continuing hopes that Donald Trump will improve ties (

            Russian attitudes toward Ukraine and the US also reflect domestic developments inside the country, he says. Many feel the Kremlin has been stealing from them to pay for its foreign adventures and thus are less likely to accept its narrative about the hostility of the US and Ukraine than they were.

            Andrey Makarkin, a Moscow political analyst and commentator, agrees. He says that the share of Russians expressing negative attitudes toward the US and Ukraine has fallen “because the interest of people in geopolitics has: they are more agitated by prices and pay and not by what is happening in the world.”

            When people become less interested in geopolitics, he suggests, they also want to identify those abroad who remain on their side, the explanation, he suggests, for why Russians are more positive about their immediate neighbors than they were a year ago.

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