To Russia Without Love

by Dish Staff


Max Fisher highlights a Pew study (pdf) released last month that documents attitudes toward Russia in countries around the world. As you can see from the map, the erstwhile superpower is not very well liked at the moment:

Russia is most unpopular in Poland, which, as a long-suffering Soviet puppet state, is exceptionally alarmed about Russia’s recent invasion of Crimea and its sponsorship of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. In Poland, only 12 percent say they have a favorable view of Russia, with 81 percent holding an unfavorable view. The rates are not much higher in the rest of Europe, which is part of why European leaders are becoming much more willing to impose tough sanctions on Russia, even at some cost to European economies.

But Russia is also deeply unpopular in the Middle East.

This is most true in Turkey, where only 16 percent hold a favorable view of the country, with 73 percent holding an unfavorable view. This may be a result of Russia’s sponsorship of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who has been able to get away with slaughtering thousands of civilians in that country’s civil war in part because Moscow shields him from international action.

Jan Cienski zooms in on how Eastern European countries, most of which are notably absent from the Pew report, are responding to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine—or not responding, as it were:

Despite their common experience of spending a half-century under Moscow’s heel as part of the Soviet bloc, it has proven impossible for Poland to forge a regional alliance against Russia. Some countries are awake to the danger of Russian tanks and green-uniformed troops appearing on their own borders; others are still keen to cut commercial deals that require being in the country’s good graces.

“The Hungarians are still conducting a policy of rapprochement with Russia. The Czechs don’t care what is happening in Eastern Europe. The Bulgarians first joyfully accept, then doubt, then again accept [Russian proposals for the South Stream, a new natural gas pipeline running through Bulgaria to Southern Europe],” said Roman Kuzniar, national security advisor to Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, in a recent radio interview. “The Baltic countries also do not have a common front. That shows how easily we are divided, even among countries which have a heightened geopolitical awareness.”