Russians have fears about North Korea, think war on Korean Peninsula unlikely - poll

Russians are concerned about escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which primarily results from North Korea's intensive military activity and unwillingness to abandon nuclear weapons, sociologists said.

Sixty percent of 1,500 respondents polled by the Public Opinion Foundation in 100 towns and cities in 43 regions on April 21 said that North Korean possession of nuclear weapons endangered other countries.

About a third of the respondents (28 percent) disagreed, and 13% were hesitant, the sociologists said.

Some 44 percent of the respondents who acknowledged the possibility of the use of Korean nuclear weapons said they threatened Russian security directly, 17 percent did not believe in that and 11 percent could not answer the question.

The Public Opinion Foundation said that the number of Russians regarding North Korea as a friend was on the decline, from 58 percent on April 8 to 34% now. Most of the optimists are men (40 percent), middle-aged persons with higher education (47 percent) and prosperous people (41 percent).

Twenty-eight percent of the respondents called North Korea an unfriendly nation (12 percent on April 8). Some 38 percent could not give an answer (30 percent on April 8).

Some 39 percent said that a war between North Korea and other countries would not start shortly under any circumstances. The opinion was mostly voiced by people who called North Korea a friend (50 percent), Muscovites (51 percent), residents of small towns and villages (47 percent), men (45 percent) and respondents older than 60 (45 percent).

Fifteen percent argued the probability of war was rather high. Most of the pessimists are the respondents who deem North Korea an enemy (25 percent), residents of small towns (23 percent), citizens aged from 18 through 30 and people with low incomes (21 percent in each group).

A quarter of the respondents said there was a possibility of war but it was insignificant. The opinion was mostly expressed by middle-aged people with higher education (34 percent) and residents of big cities (31 percent).

Twenty-four percent of the respondents who acknowledged the possibility of war said North Korea would unleash the hostilities, and 12 percent said the war would be started by North Korea's adversaries. A quarter of the respondents were hesitant.

A hypothetical war on the Korean Peninsula will certainly have an effect on Russia, said 63% of the respondents polled by the Public Opinion Foundation.

They fear Russia's involvement in the military conflict (13 percent), an economic crisis (10 percent), serious ecological problems from the use of nuclear weapons (9 percent) and Russian assistance to warring countries (8 percent).

Four percent said the possible war would have an effect not only on Russia but also on all the other countries, which might exacerbate international relations. One percent fears immigration growth because of refugees. One percent says the war may destroy the planet. One percent says this is a way to make money in Russian arms supplies to other countries.

The respondents said that the main opponent of North Korea in the possible conflict would be the United States (65 percent), South Korea (38 percent), Japan (20 percent) and China (11 percent). The main possible allies are Russia (24 percent) and China (14 percent). Five percent of the respondents said North Korea had no allies.

Seventy-three percent said that Russia would be neutral in the possible war. Eight percent suggest supporting North Korea and 4% favor support to its enemies.

Seventy percent said that Russia should do the utmost to prevent the war. Eighteen percent said nothing should be done, and 12 percent failed to answer the question.

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