Image of the USA in Russia

A Bridge Between the USA and Russia

Image of the USA in Russia

18% of Russians have a negative attitude towards the United States, 23% – positively

The Public Opinion Foundation published the results of a new poll, the topic of which was relations between Russia and the United States. The survey has been conducted by the Foundation for several years, which allows us to see the dynamics of the attitude of Russians towards the United States..

General Director of the Public Opinion Foundation Alexander Oslon says that the assessments of Russians depend on many factors – the state of relations between Moscow and Washington, the international situation, the situation within the country and the personal attitude of the respondents..

The curve of Russians’ “good attitude” towards the United States from 35% in 2001 went down to the level of 26% in 2005, fell sharply to 15% in 2012, and now it has begun to rise again. In February 2013, 23% of Russians surveyed said they were “good” about the United States of America.

But there is another dynamic. To the question “Do you think the United States is a friendly or unfriendly state towards Russia?”, More than half of the respondents consistently answered “unfriendly”. In 2002, there were 55% of them, in 2008 they rose to a record 75%, and by 2013 they decreased to 54%..

“After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there was a surge of sympathy in Russia,” explains Oslon. – 2008 is the year of the crisis, this factor played a big role in negative sentiments. 2011 is the year of “reset”, then 33 percent of respondents – this is the maximum result in a decade of research called America friendly strange “.

Oslon points out that many events happened after that, “which negatively affected the feelings of Russians towards America.”.

Self-esteem and wellbeing

More than 50% of respondents from year to year believe that the United States plays a negative role in the world. “Interestingly, this is not only a question of foreign policy and what is happening in the world,” explains Oslon. “The self-esteem of Russians and the level of their well-being are strongly affected”.

The director of the Foundation says that in the 1990s, the United States was an unattainable model where one had to strive, where “everything was good and everything was good.” The USA had an absolutely mythologized image. And this image gave the “first crack” after the bombing of Yugoslavia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov, executive director of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, agrees that welfare plays a role in moods between countries: “Russia’s GDP per capita used to lag behind the United States 20 times. And now only three times. Three times is the difference, for example, between Russia and Ukraine. This is no longer an abyss “.

“The United States, in general, is one of the five countries with the worst image. 18% of Russians who have a negative attitude towards the United States is the lowest indicator in the world, “Nikonov said..

“There are almost no overwhelming anti-American sentiments in Russia, although the media claim the opposite. – Nikonov is sure. – There is evidence that about 47 percent of Americans, and bad – 35 percent. That is, the United States treats Russia better than Russia treats the United States “.

“Most Russians are consistently indifferent to the United States. – says a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation Sergey Markov. “The United States, as a factor for Russian public opinion, is now leaving the arena.”.

Markov sees this as a “strategic mistake” for Washington, “which is missing Russia, including through unfriendly actions and freezing of cultural cooperation.”.

Another interesting point, confirmed by polls: the elite in Russia treats the United States better than the majority of citizens in the country..

About future

The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” ​​asked: what events in the world and within the country will affect the attitude of Russians to the United States in the near future?

Vyacheslav Nikonov pointed to the foreign policy factor: “Everything would change if the United States and Russia created a joint missile defense system. But this is unlikely to happen. ” According to him, the Russians will assess how Washington will act in relation to Syria, Iran and North Korea..

Sergei Markov argues that major events in the political arena affect the US image in Russia less than, for example, the “Magnitsky law”.

“The role of random factors should not be underestimated. – concluded Markov. – The bad comes by itself, but the good must be invented and created. The situation is flexible, you need to find a positive agenda, because the will of both leaders is undoubtedly present for this “.

Answering the question “does public opinion influence the policies of both states?”, Experts agreed that such influence can be reduced to zero, both in Russia and in the United States..

American mirror

In the United States, polls in which Americans are interested in their attitude towards Russia are quite rare..

The Gallup service, for example, last published such a poll in 2012, when only 2% of Americans said they considered Russia the greatest threat to the security of the United States. Overall, 50% of Americans were “positive” about Russia, 44% were “negative”.

As part of another poll, Gallup assessed the opinion of Americans about which state in the world will be the leader of the world economy in two decades: less than 1% of respondents named Russia.

In turn, in 2012, the Pew Research Center published the results of a global study, which examined how residents of other countries relate to the United States. At that time, 60% of the respondents from the EU countries, 72% of the Japanese, 56% of the Mexicans, 15% of the residents of the predominantly Muslim states of the Middle East, 43% of the residents of China and 50% of the Russians had a positive attitude towards the United States..

  • Alex Grigoriev

    Alex Grigoriev specializes in covering international relations, defense and security, intelligence, terrorism, and nuclear issues.

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