Russia has a lot of enemies. Just ask its citizens.
A recent poll by the independent Levada Center found that Russian citizens see enemies on all sides, led by their old Cold War rival -- the United States. Jules Suzdaltsev investigates the bad feelings in today's Seeker Daily dispatch.
Russia's relationship with the U.S. has long been distrustful at best, a sentiment illustrated rather hilariously in this photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. The Levada poll indicates that Ivan Lunchpail feels much the same as his government. Nearly three quarters of Russians polled listed America as an enemy of the state.
It's not entirely surprising, given the two countries' long and chaotic history, but relations had actually thawed quite a bit in the 1990s. Under pro-Western leader Boris Yeltsin, Russia incorporated a number of reforms inspired by the U.S.
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But since Vladimir Putin took power in 1999, Russia has grown increasingly aggressive. Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014 effectively destroyed any remaining goodwill. It also didn't help when Russia granted political asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Other enemies on Russia's list? Well, there's the Ukraine, naturally. After Russia's effective annexation of the disputed Crimean territories, Ukraine ended all military cooperation with its old Soviet-era partner. In 2015, Ukraine also banned all flights to and from Russia and closed its airspace to all Russian aircraft, military or civilian.
In the Levada poll, nearly half of all Russians polled named Ukraine as an enemy, up from 37 percent in 2015.
The biggest surprise in this year's poll is that Russian's now count Turkey -- a formerly close ally -- as Russia's third major enemy on the global stage. Last November, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet it said had crossed into Turkish airspace. In response, the number of Russians who named Turkey as an enemy jumped to 29 percent in the latest poll, up from just 1 percent in 2015.
On the happy side, Russians named Belarus, Kazakhstan and China as the top three countries most friendly to Russia, although China's rating dropped from 43 percent in 2015 to 34 percent in the latest poll. So that's nice, anyway.
-- Glenn McDonald
The Moscow Times: U.S., Ukraine and Turkey Named as Russia's Main Enemies - Poll
New York Times: Promises of 'Fresh Start' for U.S.-Russia Relations
BBC: Ukraine crisis: Russia and sanctions
Wall Street Journal: Turkey Expresses Regret Over Downing of Russian Plane