Trump Didn’t Help: Americans Have Started Treating Russia Worse

Almost 40% of U.S. citizens see Russia as an enemy, and during the presidency of Donald Trump, who stated his desire to improve relations with Moscow, this figure has only increased. According to experts, such an image of the Russian Federation is beneficial to American politicians, and the current head of state maintained this approach.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, more Americans began to perceive Russia not simply as an unfriendly state, but even as the enemy of the U.S. These findings are evidenced by the Economist/YouGov. Sociologists came to the conclusion that opinions about Russia slowly are changing for the worse, despite the fact that the current head of state is trying to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thus, the portion of Americans who consider Russia to be the enemy of the U.S. grew by 11%, in comparison to 38% of respondents in April 2017. Moreover, the percentage of Republican Party supporters, the people who elected Trump to office, who now call Moscow an “enemy” is 16% higher than three years ago.

Among President-elect Joe Biden’s supporters, 43% think that relations with Russia will only get worse during his presidency. Only 25% of respondents share the opposite view.

These perceptions of the Russian Federation come from common stereotypes that are prevalent in the U.S., and they haven’t gone away; they are quite persistent, says Yuri Rogulev, the director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the USA of Moscow University.

“It is not difficult to sway public opinion in the U.S., which increases the number of people who consider Russia a hostile state. Even more, every situation and its background information created by the media is very negative for Moscow. It is particularly advantageous for American politicians, because without a sort of an enemy, it is quite difficult to lead a country.”

In his opinion, without a clear and direct enemy, they begin to fabricate one — which is happening to the relationship with Russia. To the U.S., the Russian Federation is seen as a bully, a country that does not recognize American dominance and leadership and also doesn’t want to follow its rules.

“The U.S. leadership doesn’t consider Russia an equal partner and doesn’t see an equitable relationship with it as a prospect. Until they recognize that Russia plays a serious role in international affairs, it is difficult to expect some improvement in the two countries’ relations,” remarked Rogulev.

At the same time, from an expert’s perspective, the U.S. always has one position in relation to Russia, regardless of who is in power at the moment. So Trump promised to start a dialogue but still followed the fundamental principle: It’s necessary to conduct negotiations from a position of strength.

“For example, It was quite evident in the negotiations on the extension of the treaty on further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms (START III). So the White House agreed to prolong the agreement formally, then unilaterally put forward requests unacceptable to Russia,” explains Rogulev.

Ivan Timofeev, Director of Programs at the Russian International Affairs Council, is certain that no adjustment of U.S. attitude toward Russia is likely to be seen as necessary at the present time. “It is not for Moscow to do.”

“The American administration doesn’t make any special efforts to turn the population against Russia. Societal opinion in this case simply appears to be an indicator of what the relations are between Washington and Moscow,” emphasizes an expert in a conversation with

The Cyber Attack Factor

In their study, Economist/YouGov sociologists link the decline in the relationship of Republicans with Moscow to the events of recent months with Trump. According to the research, until November, only 28% of Republican party supporters called Russia an enemy of the U.S. That is, in just a month, this rate increased by 12%.

Such a leap is explained by a large-scale cyber attack on American government agencies, but also on critically important targets and organizations of the private sector. Hacking was recorded in the beginning of December, and the majority of the U.S. liberal media attributed the attack to Moscow, even though the allegations were officially rejected by the Kremlin.

In the White House, opinions on Russian “accountability” are supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Attorney General William Barr. However, Trump took the opposite position. According to the American president, China could be behind this attack.

“Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

As was noted in a survey in the Economist/Yougov, more than two-thirds of respondents “heard something” about the cyber attack, with Democrats knowing significantly more about it than Republicans — 83% versus 63%. Overall, 58% of respondents believe that Moscow is responsible for these actions.

While Trump calls China guilty, his successor Biden hasn’t ruled out implementing actions against Russia for the hackers’ attacks. According to Reuters, advisers are discussing this issue with Democrats, but are also considering the option of damaging Russian computer systems.

The agency’s sources allege that the Democrat’s inner circle, however, considers it essential to avoid “an escalation of conflict” with Russia. The final decision will be taken after the inauguration of the president-elect, who will take office Jan. 20, 2021.

Biden himself didn’t directly talk about sanctions on Russia yet. However, the Democrat promised that for those responsible for the alleged cyber attack, “substantial costs” will be imposed, and that the U.S. will cooperate with other partners and allies on this issue.

“We have learned in recent days of what appears to be a massive cybersecurity breach affecting potentially thousands of victims, including U.S. companies and federal government entities. There’s a lot we don’t yet know, but what we do know is a matter of great concern,“ concluded Biden.

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