Popularity of China Ties Surges Big Time in Russia. Europe Popularity Down

Russians place most emphasis on ties with:

  • China: 47%
  • ex-USSR: 12%
  • Western Europe: 8%

Last year it was:

  • ex-USSR: 28%
  • China: 21%
  • Western Europe: 20%
MORE: Politics

This article originally appeared at Russia Beyond the Headlines

Nearly half of Russians (47 percent) believe that the country's foreign policy should center on stronger relations with China in the long-term period, Levada Center told Interfax.

CIS countries ranked second (12 percent), Western Europe came third (8 percent) and the United States (4 percent) and Islamic countries (1 percent) followed in a poll of 1,600 respondents in 134 populated localities on December 19-22.

The opinions have undergone a major transformation: only 21 percent of respondents prioritized Beijing as Russia's partner a year ago while 28 percent and 20 percent chose CIS countries and Europe respectively. Nine percent of Russians wished to befriend the United States and 3 percent chose Islamic countries.

In addition, most respondents (57 percent vs. 50 percent in 2012) said that Western criticism of Russia should be ignored. The opposite opinion was expressed by less than a third of respondents (27 percent vs. 38 percent in 2012) and 16 percent were undecided.

The respondents choosing to disregard Western criticism of Moscow say "the West does not wish Russia well and the criticism is hostile" (43 percent) and "the West sees Russia as a rival and tries to weaken it" (40 percent).

An overwhelming number of Russians (87 percent) believe that the West is holding a hostile policy towards Russia and only 8 percent disagree. Seven percent are unable to answer the question.

In the opinion of respondents, the hostile attitude of the West has been exhibited by sanctions imposed on the Russian economy (51 percent), information warfare (42 percent) and attempts to take control over the country's economy and natural resources (40 percent).

Russians are also suspecting the West of attempts "to drive Russia away from the post-Soviet space and take control over republics of the former Soviet Union and former socialist countries" and the aspiration for "replacing the current political regime in Russia by another which would be more convenient [for the West]" (31 percent in each category).

Forty-six percent explain the unfavorable attitude towards Russia by the wish "to grab its natural resources" and 43 percent think that the West "fears its [Russia's] military might."

Another 30 percent opined that "the West and Russia had always been irreconcilable adversaries due to profound differences between their religion, morals and culture" and 24 percent said that the West was simply envious of Russia.

MORE: Politics