The Russian leadership may take a harder line on their foreign policies in a bid to improve their damaged popularity at home, a report prepared by the Center of Strategic Research (TsSR) said.
The report, entitled “Society and Authorities in the Situation of Political Crisis,” sums up the results of a public survey conducted by the non-government think-tank at the request of the Committee of Civil Initiatives, a public organization headed by former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.
“In a situation when public support of the authorities’ domestic policy initiatives continues its weakening trend, we can expect attempts to compensate failures in domestic politics with foreign policy actions that meet the expectations of the population,” the report said.
According to the document, the absolute majority of Russians questioned in the survey “perceive international politics through the prism of foreign threats.” They are victims of the official propaganda, which says that “Russia is a country rich in its natural resources and territory, and other countries will try to take them away by force.”
The United States and Western world as a whole are seen as Russia’s “main strategic rivals;”as a result, most Russians support an increase in defense spending, even at the expense of education, health care and pensions, the report said.
“Foreign policies based on the concept of foreign threats and anti-Western rhetoric is treated by the Russian authorities as the most important anchor preventing further decrease in their popular support,” the document said.
Therefore, TsSR analysts concluded, Russia’s foreign policy “may become even less realistic and more indoctrinated… this would limit opportunities for a flexible and pragmatic foreign policy course that corresponds to Russia’s long-term interests.”
The survey was conducted in three stages in March, April and May and involved people of different ages, professions and political views in many cities and towns across Russia.