In the past year, Russia has gone from the equivalent of the disruptive kid you tolerate at the middle school lunch table, to a full-blown social outcast.
According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, Americans’ and Europeans’ distaste for Russia has jumped sharply in the past year.
Since the crisis in Ukraine, the percentage of Americans who view Russia unfavorably has jumped from 43 percent to 72 percent. Of the seven European powers included in the survey, 74 percent have jumped on the anti-Russia bandwagon, compared to only 54 percent a year ago.
Is it Cold War mentality all over again?
After Putin’s annexation of Crimea in March, the European Union and the Obama Administration placed sanctions on a number of powerful Russian businessmen. Republican lawmakers from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are now calling for more aggressive action from the Obama Administration, taking advantage of the public’s growing anti-Russian attitudes. The EU is also currently considering more sanctions.
Many Russians are totally unaware of how much the Ukraine crisis hurt their country’s image. In another Pew study from May, almost half of Russians said that Putin’s handling of the Ukraine situation has made other countries feel more, not less, positively toward Russia. Doesn’t anyone have the heart to break it to them?
The study also reveals some fascinating facts about Russians’ own views of their homeland: 92 percent of Russians say they have a favorable view of their country, and 83 percent say they have confidence in President Putin to “do the right thing regarding world affairs.’’ However, a much smaller contingent, 57 percent, says the government respects their personal freedoms.
One country that actually seems to be warming up to Russia is its southeastern neighbor, China. 66 percent of Chinese people view Russia favorably, which is 17 percent more than last year. That’s not quite ‘’’BFF’’ status, but maybe they’re getting close.