Monday, August 13, 2007

Russia and the West Continued ...

Last year, I penned an essay for Orbis (Russia: European but Not Western) in which I argued that most Russians see their country as part of Europe but are more ambiguous about belong to the West (defined as the Atlantic Community).

A July poll by the Levada Group has some interesting polling data. 74 percent of Russians polled see Russia as a distinct "Eurasian" state with its own path for development; this is up from 53 percent in 2001. Only 10 percent see Russia as "Western" (and only 7 percent as "Eastern"--understood here to mean "Asian").

What I also found interesting was the comments about Russia's "split" view of the United States. As Alexei Grazhdankin, deputy head of the Levada Center, noted:

"When we speak about the United States as a geopolitical player, it is portrayed as an adversary. When we consider business cooperation, it is a partner. And if we ask Russians about their attitude to Americans as a nation, there will be many more positive answers. Our leaders' moves do not influence our attitude to the people ..."

(At any rate, the overall assessment of the U.S. has fluctuated a great deal over the last few months. 48 percent negative in the aftermath of the Munich security conference in the spring, down to 36 percent following the Kennebunkport summit.)

Well, did you see the Ten Reasons Why Russia Can't Trust Uncle Sam in the Moscow News? Interesting list.
Here is a somehwat different set of results in response to similar questions by VTsIOM.
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