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Russian opinions of US relations improve after Helsinki summit, poll shows

Russian opinions of US relations improve after Helsinki summit, poll shows
The recent Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki has brought a slight improvement in the average Russians’ opinion on the current level of Russia-US relations, but its overall level remains much lower than just a year ago.

In a new survey, conducted by the Russian state-run public opinion agency VTSIOM, researchers asked respondents to estimate the current level of Russia-US relations on a scale from -100 to 100 and then produced a combined index through subtracting the overall sum of replies that were in the negative from the overall sum of positive replies.

The figure they received was -72 points which is slightly up from -74 points in early July. However, it was still significantly lower than just a year ago – in July 2017 the parameter amounted to -44 points.

Negative evaluations still dominate the Russian public opinion. 39 percent of respondents describe the relations between the two nations as tense and 29 percent as cold. Only between 1 and 2 percent of Russians mention such words as friendship and neighborly relations,” reads the comment released by the VTSIOM agency.

15 percent of respondents said that in their view the relations between Russia and the United States were hostile and 8 percent – as normal and calm.

When asked to define the US and its policies 86 percent of Russians described it as “a country that meddles with other countries’ affairs.” 75 percent used the term “aggressive” and 68 percent opted for a more neutral term “influential.”

On the positive side, 76 percent of Russians mentioned the advanced level of American science and research, 57 percent – high living standards, 37 percent the democratic nature of the US society and 12 percent the trustworthiness of the American state.   

The internal contradictions between our nations were so deep and Donald Trump was so entangled in his internal political problems that there was no serious breakthrough achieved [at the Helsinki summit]. Russians today are very realistic in their views on possibility of overcoming the conflict with the West,” VTSIOM’s General Director Valery Fedorov noted in comments.

However, the polls also demonstrate that if the hard work of the two presidents results in détente it would receive serious support in the Russian society,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his US counterpart Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 16. This was the first one-on-one meeting of the two leaders dedicated to a broad array of issues - “everything from trade to military to missiles to nuclear to China,” in Trump’s words.

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