Russia’s anger towards the United States has reached its highest levels since the Levada Center started tracking it in 1988. That means today’s Russia is far more anti-American than the Soviet Union. According to Levada Center, the anti-U.S. sentiment has surpassed any time since the Stalin era. Now, 81% Russians hold a negative view of the United States. Worse, the number has more than doubled over the last year.
Russia’s outrage peaked after Nemtsov’s assassination
The outrage peaked after the assassination of Putin critic Boris Nemtsov. Just hours after Nemtsov’s death, conspiracy theories started doing rounds that CIA had plotted his death to discredit Russia, reports Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post. The anti-U.S. sentiment is expected to grow even stronger if President Barack Obama decides to send lethal weapons to Ukrainian government forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already accused Washington of supplying arms to Ukraine.
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The U.S. has been seriously considering arming Ukrainian forces to fight the pro-Russia separatists. The aim would be to “raise the cost” for Moscow. Russian anger against the U.S. will be a challenge for American policymakers looking to reach out to some friendly faces in Russia. Sergey Mikheev, director of the Kremlin-allied Center for Current Politics, said last year that the U.S. was using people as guinea pigs to experiment geopolitically.
Ordinary Russians’ anger has only grown stronger
During the Soviet era, their rhetoric was anti-Western, but ordinary Russians still loved the Beatles or the Voice of America broadcasts. But those positive feelings towards the West vanished after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Today, there are efforts to replace Coke with Russian soft drinks. Russians are flocking in thousands to exchange Western-branded clothing for Russian T-shirts.
Russian federal TV channels are the primary source of news for over 90% Russians. Fed by intense antagonism, the ordinary Russian’s anger has only grown stronger. A separate survey conducted by Gallup showed last month that Americans are also skeptical of Russia. According to the Gallup polls, Americans consider Russia the greatest enemy of the U.S.