Survey: Americans and Russians have common interests

According to residents of the two countries, including combating threats of international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons

New comparative sociological survey shows that Americans and Russians in General attach great importance to key foreign policy issues, including the threat of international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the need to complete long civil war in Syria.

However, there are significant differences in views on the priorities of foreign policy cooperation between the two countries, as well as a noticeable discrepancy regarding the North Korean nuclear program.

Survey data released by the Chicago Council on global Affairs, with the assistance of the Russian sociological service “Levada-Center”, were collected in a period when relations between Washington and Moscow have fallen to the lowest point since the cold war.

The survey showed that, despite the opposition, the US and Russia have similar views on the major threats facing their countries.

In response to a request to call a critical threat to their country 70 percent of Russians mentioned on international terrorism. Second and third place was shared by Islamic fundamentalism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons – they were called for 52 percent of respondents.

These numbers are very similar to the results obtained in the United States: 75 percent of Americans consider international terrorism a critical threat to their country, 59 percent Express concerns about Islamic fundamentalism and 62 percent – about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, revealed serious disagreements over the North Korean nuclear program. While 75 percent of Americans consider it a critical threat, only 37 percent of Russians are of the same opinion.

The results of the survey are not unexpected. In recent years, the US and Russia has become a target for international terrorists. In many cases, the attacks were planned by groups motivated by Islamic fundamentalism, for example, “Islamic state”.

The Chicago Council and “Levada-the Centre” also tried to find out the opinion of Americans and Russians on the priority directions of potential cooperation between the two countries in foreign policy.

Here is the difference in public opinion in the two countries became more visible.

For Russians the most important factors were the reduction of nuclear arms around the world (27 percent), ending the conflict in Syria (24 per cent) and the fight against terrorism in the middle East (18 per cent).

For their part, the Americans called the North Korean nuclear program the main priority of cooperation with Russia (38 percent). In this case the problem of nuclear proliferation in General was named by only 14 percent.

With regard to cooperation on Syria and counter-terrorism in the middle East, only 5 and 6 percent of Americans, respectively, i.e. significantly less than the Russians chose them as the main directions of cooperation with Russia.

However, the Americans and the Russians have a somewhat similar views on what should be their goals in Syria.

The polling data of the Chicago Council showed that while a majority of Americans (68 percent) support the use of air strikes against Islamist groups in Syria, only 45 percent support air strikes against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Even fewer, 28 percent, support the use of ground troops to offset Assad from office.

Russian troops stand on the side of Assad’s forces in Syria, but only 27 percent of Russians are in favor to use them to counter attempts to overthrow it. However, about half, 48 percent, support the use of Russian troops to fight with extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Overall, much enthusiasm about the war in Syria is not felt.

The survey showed that 33 percent of Russians believe that Moscow’s intervention in the conflict did more harm than good. The opposite opinion is shared by 31 percent, and 37 percent said that intervention has not brought neither harm nor good.

Broad skepticism of Americans about Russia and Putin is another Central obstacle to international cooperation. Last year the Pew Research center found that 23 percent of Americans were confident that Putin is doing the right thing in international Affairs.

According to the July joint poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, six out of ten Americans believed that Russia was trying to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

For their part, the Russians are not so suspicious of trump: 53 percent approved of how he solved international problems in the first months in office. For comparison, the same indicator for Barack Obama when he was President, was 11 percent.