Sunday, December 22, 2019

Moscow Wrong to Think Trump’s Impeachment Increasing Sympathy for Russia in US, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 20 – Some Russian analysts believe that the impeachment process against US President Donald Trump is helping Moscow, US-based Russian journalist Kseniya Kirillova says, with ever more Americans, including in the armed forces, coming to view Moscow as an ally rather than an enemy.

            Moscow writers are arguing that “the impeachment hearings are only increasing the sympathy of ordinary Americans to Russia” as a form of protest against those who are pursuing Trump for his “supposed deal with Moscow;” and they point to a new poll in support of that view (

            According to the latest Reagan national defense poll, “almost half of American military personnel and members of their families – 46 percent – said that they consider Russia an ally,” Kirillova continues, pointing out that this finding has generated “concern” among Pentagon leaders.

            The same poll found, she says, that “only 28 percent” of Americans overall held that view, but at the same time, that figure is “nine percentage points higher than last year” when only 19 percent of Americans considered Russia to be an ally.

            But Kirillova says, it is not true that “investigations into the interference of Russia into American elections has increased the sympathy of Americans for Moscow, “to put it mildly.” And those Americans both in the establishment and in the population at large in fact view Russia for its actions in this regard with hostility.

            Instead the exposure of what Moscow has been doing in the US and of “the mutual sympathies of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have given rise to negative attitudes,” despite what the new poll seems to suggest. And she argues that the shift in public attitudes is connected with another trend in American public opinion.

            “Americans,” Kirillova argues, “are tired in principle from the extraordinary influence of foreign policy on domestic processes in the country.” Most don’t focus on foreign policy, and talk about Russian and Ukrainian links to the US has only intensified their feelings that foreign involvement in the US and US involvement with others is somehow “unclean.”

            It is the case, she says, that some Trump supporters “really have accepted his positive attitude toward Moscow, but their number is lower than those who on the contrary relate to Russia worse than they did after the 2016 elections.” Thus, the Kremlin’s hopes for serious changes in US attitudes toward Russia are misplaced.

            Moscow may gain from the controversy and confusion in the US over the impeachment process, Kirillova suggests; but it isn’t going to become more popular as a result, except perhaps among those who, like Donald Trump, already view Russia in general and Putin in particular in a positive light.

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