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Putin's popularity in Russia soars to highest level in years as Obama's star fades

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Barack Obama,Russia,Vladimir Putin,Minusextra,Russia Reset,Becket Adams

Russian President Vladimir Putin is as popular in Russia as he has been in years, since even before President Obama's inauguration in 2009, according to a new Gallup Poll.

The Gallup survey, which was conducted from April 22-June 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, found that 83 percent of Russians say they approve of the job Putin is doing, marking an increase of 29 percentage points since 2013.

The popularity boost for Putin also comes at a time when Obama's approval rating is currently sitting at around 42 percent, the result of his administration's total mishandling of issues both foreign and domestic.


The sudden increase in approval for Putin is likely due to a swell of national pride brought on by Russia hosting the Sochi Olympic Games as well as its recent attempts to reclaim territories once belonging to the Soviet Union, including Crimea and Ukraine, Gallup suggested.


Further, the report continued, the increase in approval signals that “he has solidified his previously shaky support base.”

“For the first time since 2008, a majority of Russians (73 percent) believe their country's leadership is leading them in the right direction. This renewed faith is apparent in their record-level confidence in the country's military (78 percent), their national government (64 percent), and honesty of elections (39 percent),” the report added.

Moreover, the Gallup report, which surveyed some 2,000 Russians aged 15 or older, found that a record-high 65 percent of Russians say they are satisfied with their freedom, a sharp contrasts to the dwindling number of Americans who say the same.

This, of course, could have something to do with recent turnarounds in Russian economy.

“Despite U.S. and European sanctions earlier this year over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, more Russians see their economy getting better now than has been the case since 2008. However, the economic outlook still remains relatively weak, with 35 percent of Russians saying conditions are getting better and 19 percent saying they are getting worse, and the jobs outlook has not improved,” Gallup reported.

And as more Russians are reportedly saying they're much happier with the direction that their country is headed, according to the 2,000 face-to-face interviews conducted by Gallup, a growing number also say that they really, really dislike the European Union and the United States.

In fact, Russian approval for the U.S. is at the lowest it has been since even before 2006, registering at only 4 percent, while only 6 percent of Russians say they approve of the EU.

Russia's sinking opinion of the West “partly reflects Russians' displeasure with the position each has taken on their country's ongoing involvement in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea. The U.S. broadened sanctions against Russia on Wednesday to target banks and energy companies, and EU leaders also say they intend to increase sanctions,” Gallup reported.

And let's not forget that as more Russians say they disapprove of the West, their government has been working diligently to align itself with the Chinese.

“As Russia's relations have frayed with the West, it has sought to improve relations with China, inking a $400 billion gas deal in May and lauding the country as its most important economic partner. Russians' approval of China has soared in kind, reaching a record 42 percent,” Gallup reported.


Lastly, 42 percent of Russians now say they have a positive opinion of China, a massive increase from when only 25 percent of Russians said the same in 2013.

To recap: The Russians apparently hate the U.S., they really don't like the EU, they think very highly of Putin and they have definitely warmed up to the Chinese.

So much for that infamous “reset."


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T. Becket Adams

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner

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