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Russian Participation in the Syrian Conflict

The survey took place between 2 and 5 October 2015 and was conducted throughout all of Russia in both urban and rural settings. The survey was carried out among 1600 people over the age of 18 in 134 localities of 46 of the country’s regions. The answer distribution is presented as percentages of the number of participants along with data from previous surveys. The statistical error of these studies does not exceed 3.4%.

WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD TOWARD THE STRIKES ON THE ‘ISLAMIC STATE’ IN SYRIA…

 

By the Air Force of

France

By the Air Force of

Russia

Entirely positive

24

31

Mostly positive

39

41

Mostly negative

12

10

Entirely negative

4

4

It is difficult to say

20

14

DO YOU SUPPORT THE FEDERATION COUNCIL’S DECISION TO ALLOW THE USE OF RUSSIAN TROOPS ABROAD?

Definitely yes

10

Mostly yes

36

Mostly no

21

Definitely no

12

I don’t know about this

13

It is difficult to say

9

IN THE LAST FEW DAYS, IT HAS COME TO LIGHT THAT RUSSIAN AIR FORCES HAVE BEGUN BOMBING IN SYRIA. WITH WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING OPINIONS DO YOU MOST AGREE?

Russia should support Bashar Assad in his fight against the Islamic State and the Syrian opposition

47

In general, Russia should not get involved in this type of military conflict

28

Russia should unite with the Western coalition in the fight against the Islamic State and Bashar Assad’s regime

8

I don’t know anything about this

8

It is difficult to say

10

WHAT FEELINGS DO YOU HAVE TOWARDS THE RUSSIAN AIR FORCE BOMBINGS AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE IN SYRIA: APPROVAL; INDIGNATION AND RESENTMENT; NEITHER APPROVAL NOR RESENTMENT; OR ARE YOU NOT SUFFICIENTLY AWARE OF THE ISSUE TO HAVE ANY PARTICULAR OPINION?

Approval

31

Indignation and resentment

14

Neither approval nor resentment

25

I am not sufficiently aware of the issue to have any particular opinion

22

It is difficult to say

7

IN YOUR OPINION, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT RUSSIA’S MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN THE SYRIAN CONFLICT COULD TURN INTO A “NEW” AFGHANISTAN SITUATION FOR RUSSIA?

It will certainly happen

7

It is entirely likely

39

It is unlikely

32

It is entirely impossible

6

I’m not interested in this

4

It is difficult to say

13

IN YOUR OPINION, DO YOU THINK THAT THE USA AND THE WEST ON ONE HAND, AND RUSSIA AND THE CURRENT SYRIAN GOVERNMENT ON THE OTHER HAND, WILL BE ABLE TO FIND COMMON GROUND TO RESOLVE THE SITUATION IN SYRIA?

Definitely yes

5

Probably yes

44

Probably no

25

Definitely no

5

It is difficult to say

21

In the spring of this year, the majority of Russians did not view the Islamic State as an obvious threat (as evidenced by the results of a focus group, in which the Islamic State was practically omitted from a list of ‘enemies’ of Russia, and survey data which found only slight interest in the Syrian conflict), but the current opinion has changed.

More than two thirds of respondents view the Islamic State as a threat and see the use of Air Force strikes by Russia (72%) and France (63%) as justified.

Survey respondents primarily view the Russian Air Force’s involvement in Syria as an indication of of Russia’s political leadership’s desire to support Bashar Assad in the fight against the Islamic State and the Syrian opposition (47%). A third of Russians (28%) are against Russia’s military involvement in the Syrian conflict. The notion that Russia’s battle with the Islamic State is an opportunity to establish better contact with the West is not well-supported by the population – only 8% of Russians believe that the country should united with the Western coalition in the fight against the Islamic State and Bashar Assad’s regime. One in five respondents are unable to explain the bombings, have difficulty in responding (10%), or not know about the attacks (8%).

Public opinion demonstrates maturity in the question of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict – 78% of respondents believe that the situation could turn into a ‘new’ Afghanistan for the country. The Federation Council’s decision to allow the use of Russian troops abroad is approved of by 46% of Russian and disapproved of by 33%. The approval of Russian military intervention has a declarative nature and falls more within general public approval of the authorities’ actions – which has been stable in recent years – than in actual approval of Russia’s involvement in the war. In September 2015, 69% of Russians were against direct military support to the Syrian government, just as they were against it for Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in 2014.

49% of Russians believe that Russia and the USA will be able to find common ground in the question of resolving the Syrian conflict, although the majority of the population does not want this and is still under “anti-Western anesthesia.” A third of respondents (30%) are confident that Russia’s Middle Eastern policy will not bring any positive results in improving Russian-American relations.

Translated by Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (formerly  Monterey Institute of International Studies).

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