Russians are confident in their military, poll shows

RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko
An overwhelming majority of Russian citizens believe that their military forces are capable of repelling any threats, shows the latest poll conducted by the state agency VTSIOM.

Sociologists say this year’s polls mark a change in the tendency of mostly negative attitude to the military that existed in the Russian community over the past several years. Moreover, the approval of the forces and people’s desire to join them have reached their historical maximums.

The share of those who said that they did not doubt the capabilities of the Russian military was 86 percent – up from just 66 percent a year ago. Only 10 percent claimed to harbor contrary beliefs, down from 25 percent in 2014.

The respondents also said that they had generally positive attitude towards the military. Forty percent said they felt respect towards the forces and 39 percent described their feelings as pride. A further 20 percent claimed that they had hopes attached to the nation’s defenders.

The negative assessments included disappointment (7 percent), lack of trust (4 percent), skepticism (2 percent) and disapproval (2 percent).

The proportion of Russians who said that they would like to see their own relatives in the military ranks was 59 percent, while 34 percent said they preferred a different situation. Some 59 percent of respondents said that the military service was a good way to find one’s destination and build a career. Fifteen percent said that in their view the service had a contrary influence on a person and obstructed the fulfillment of certain life plans.

Thirty-four percent of those polled said that the Russian military was primarily a defensive institution aimed against external threats and that it had little or no influence on other spheres of life. Twenty percent said that defense from foreign threats was the main task of the forces, but admitted their influence to the community on other aspects as well.

READ MORE: No change in the course of military reform – Shoigu

Deputy Director of the VTSIOM agency, Konstantin Abramov, said in comments with Vedomosti daily that the military forces had become one of Russia’s most approved institutes, along with the president and the Church, over the past years. MP Frants Klintsevich of the parliamentary majority United Russia party and an activist of the NGO ‘Citizen and Army’, Sergey Krivenko, said that the current situation can be explained by high professionalism of Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his team and also by the fact that the military reform that started several years ago is beginning to yield results.

Klintsevich also noted such factor as constant demonstration of the priority of the defense sector by top Russian officials.

The general lines of the military reform that started in 2008 are a radical cut in the number of servicemen, replacing conscripts with professional soldiers, re-arming the military with the latest weapons and changing the financial system so that it matches the new force.

In October 2014, Shoigu told reporters that in this month the Russian military for the first time had more contract servicemen than conscripts. The minister added that that this was a proof of the growing prestige of a military career and its popularity among young Russians.