Staunton, September 15 -- Three years ago, 57 percent of Russians said that their country remained a superpower, but now only 37 percent think so, although 29 percent say it may reclaim that status in the near term, VTsIOM reports. More intriguingly, one in four – 26 percent – say that won’t happen (wciom.ru/index.php?id=236&uid=10542).
Thirty-one percent of Russians say that Moscow should seek to recover superpower status; but 44 percent of them said the country should seek to be economically developed and influential. And ten percent say it should not pursue that goal, with six percent favoring the more limited aspiration of leadership of the post-Soviet region.
The poll also found that 11 percent said the country should promote social policy and improve the lives of Russians, 44 percent believe the government should support business so that Russia can become one of the top ten to 15 countries in the world and ten percent say Moscow should spend less on the armed forces in order to do so.
Some of these issues are the kind where one would expect most people to respond in this way regardless of how they feel, but the share of the Russian population favoring a shift from the use of military means to achieve power to promoting domestic development is significant, especially given VTsIOM’s links to the Kremlin.
Obviously, these results do not mean that Vladimir Putin is about to change course; but these numbers simultaneously will encourage those who want that to happen and mean that the Kremlin leader is certain to find it more difficult not less to promote his drive to recover Russia’s great power status regardless of domestic costs.