Russians list US, Ukraine & Turkey as country’s main enemies in latest poll

© Evgeny Biyatov
The United States, Ukraine and Turkey top the nations that Russians see as most hostile to their motherland with Belarus, Kazakhstan and China traditionally seen as friendliest, a recent poll has shown.

According to the results of the research, conducted by independent pollster the Levada Center, reports that 72 percent of Russians identified the US as the country that is most hostile toward Russia. Ukraine was second with 48 percent and Turkey came third with 29 percent (researchers allowed every respondent to name several countries in response to this question). The opinion about the US remained approximately the same year-on-year, with 73 percent of Russians seeing it as the most hostile nation in 2015, but Ukraine’s image deteriorated, with a higher proportion than last year’s 37 percent seeing it as an enemy last year. Only 1 percent of the Russian public named Turkey as an opponent in 2015.

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When asked about which nations they thought to be the friendliest toward their country, 50 percent of Russians identified Belarus, 39 percent named Kazakhstan and 43 percent said China. Also, Syria came relatively high in the rating of Russia’s perceived friends, with 10 percent of respondents, against just 2 percent last year.

When asked about their own negative sentiments towards foreign nations, 70 percent said that they disliked the US the most, 62 percent named the European Union and 63 percent confessed to negative feelings toward Ukraine.

The Levada Center’s deputy director, Aleksey Grazhdankin, said in comments with popular business daily Vedomosti that Russians’ attitude to the US and the EU hit a record low in early 2015 and after this the situation started to improve, but in May this year it started deteriorating again. Grazhdantkin blamed this on the celebrations of Russia’s victory in WWII, or more specifically on the fact that western nations did not acknowledge Russia’s leading role in the defeat of the Nazis. “There are no other factors,” the expert said.

Grazhdankin went on to explain the negative sentiments toward Ukraine by the fact that Kiev authorities cannot solve the conflict with the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. He also recalled the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish Air Force in Syria, saying the yet unresolved incident is the most likely reason of Russians’ negative attitude toward Turkey.

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In August 2015, state-run research center VTsIOM studied the perception of the US in Russia and found that it had drastically deteriorated, with 59 percent of respondents thinking that the current Washington administration is extremely hostile toward Russia and its people. In February 2015, VTsIOM reported that about 68 percent of Russian citizens thought the likelihood of foreign military aggression towards their country has increased, but 49 percent considered the state of Russian military as good and capable of repelling any attacks.