Russia's biggest enemies? New poll suggests Uncle Sam, Perfidious Albion & estranged 'little brother' Ukraine are top three foes
The great French novelist Gustave Flaubert famously said that you can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies. If the same philosophy applies to countries, well then Russia isn't doing too badly.
Moscow's refusal to accept the vassal status the US had planned for it in the nineties has led to a furious pushback by Washington's allies. But the West's diminishing power means Russia has been able to offset somewhat by building new relations in the east.
But who do Russians themselves see as their nation's main antagonists? Well, a new poll suggests 60% see the United States as a foe, followed by Ukraine (35%) and Britain (29%). Just 7% think that Russia has no enemies.
Regularly conducted by the Levada Center, which has received Western funding in the past, the list has been topped by the US since 2013. Before then, the top enemy ranking had been dominated by countries in the ‘near abroad,’ such as Georgia, Estonia, and Latvia.
The pollsters also revealed that Russians see the country’s closest friends as Belarus (58%), China (40%), and Kazakhstan (35%). Belarus has topped the friendship list since 2009, with the emergence of China as a partner coming in 2014. This was a pivotal year for Russia, when the Western-backed 'Maidan' in Ukraine led to the reabsorption of Crimea and Moscow being booted out of the G8, a group of the most powerful US-aligned states.
The Levada Center also conducts a regular poll, taking place multiple times a year, asking Russians about their opinions of the United States and Belarus, along with several other countries. According to the results from August 2020, only 42% of Russians have a positive view of the US, while the vast majority (85%) saw Belarus favorably.
Despite Russians thinking positively of Belarus, a poll last week by WCIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Center) revealed that just 17% of respondents want the country to join with Russia to create a single state, with 43% rejecting all unification suggestions.
Named for its founder, the late Yuri Levada, the polling company has been accused of liberal and western bias. In September 2016, the Russian Ministry of Justice ordered that the company be included on the register of foreign agents working within the country, after it admitted to receiving foreign funding.
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