The desire of Russians to be friends with the West peaked in the beginning of the century

Two-thirds of Russians support the expansion of political, cultural and economic ties with Western countries, a new study by the Levada center (have). This figure is close to the historical maximum in March 2000, when the rapprochement with the Western countries were 76% of Russians. According to Levada, in November about the support of the policy of rapprochement with the West, said 71% of respondents, 21% more than in July 2015.

Sociologists have noted the request of the Russians on the rapprochement with the West while reducing the negative to the US and the EU. According to November information the Levada center, “basically bad” and “bad” to the United States are in the aggregate 56% of the respondents. For the EU the figure is 54%. Two months ago, “basically bad” and “very bad” to the United States treated 64%, and in January 2016 — 65%. Dynamics of attitudes to the EU from January improved by 4% in November to a negative EU attitude 54% of the respondents.

In society there is a request for normalization of relations with the major Western powers, said the Deputy Director of the Levada center Alexei Grazhdankin. However, according to him, the Russians mostly think that the initiative must come from the West, they do not understand why the actions of their country in Ukraine welcomes this attitude on the part of Western States.

A positive shift in the perception of the USA can be explained by the rhetoric of the Russian media, which suggest the possibility of warming relations between Russia and the United States after the election of the Republican candidate, Donald trump President, says Grazhdankin. According to last week’s poll by the Levada center, the improvement of Russian-American relations after the election, trump’s waiting for more than half of Russians.

A request for the development of relations with Western countries and the negative attitude towards the US and the EU do not contradict each other, says the Director of the Center for political technologies Igor Bunin. “The survey showed the ambivalent attitude of Russians to the West. On the one hand, it is perceived as our enemy, we lived in a besieged fortress. On the other hand we great behind and before waiting for help, and now want to cooperate, but they are still enemies,” — explains the logic of the expert.

Grazhdankin and Bunin emphasize that the strong change in public opinion takes time. “Public opinion can respond to some spikes, for example, similar to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia,” says Bunin.

According to the Levada center, the growth of scepticism concerning the development of relations with Western countries took place in November 2014. Then, according to the Levada center, for the development of relations with the West were less than 60% of the respondents. The absolute minimum was recorded in July 2015, when the expansion of relations with the West were 50%, and the reduction is 37%, rest were undecided.

In the Levada survey also referred to the attitude of Russians to Ukraine and Belarus. Compared to the October survey showed a rise in the number of Russians who are well disposed to Ukraine from 26% to 33%. Thus from January 2016 the number of Russians “good” and “very good” related to Ukraine increased by 5%. For Belarus, the same dynamics amounted to 4%, from about 81% to 85%.

As the survey was conducted

The survey was conducted by Levada center, 18-21 November on a representative nationwide sample of urban and rural population among 1600 people aged over 18.