64 percent of Russians believe that a “military conflict involving nuclear weapons” could start in today’s world. Source: Source: Getty Images / Fotobank
The majority of citizens of Russia now believe that a nuclear war is possible in today’s world, according to the findings of a survey conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (Fond Obshchestvennoye Mneniye). The nuclear threat, according to respondents, comes primarily from the United States. The tense international environment and the problems in Ukraine have only increased the fear of Russians, the experts believe.
According to the data collected at the end of June by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), 64 percent of Russians believe that a “military conflict involving nuclear weapons” could start in today’s world, 20 percent do not believe that such a threat exists, and 17 percent are undecided. With that, 53 percent of respondents believe that the danger of nuclear war is higher today “than it was 15-20 years ago,” 26 percent believe that the threat level has not changed, and only 7 percent – say it is lower, while 14 percent are undecided. Grigory Dobromelov, Director of the Institute of Political Studies, explains these widespread fears of a nuclear war on the part of Russians are due to the mass media’s interpretations of the current political situation.
“People all over the world are frightened, not only in Russia,” says Communist Party member Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the Duma Defence Committee. “This nervousness can be seen everywhere, this misunderstanding, while peace on our planet is still very far away.” According to him, the fact that “the world is living in fear” is the fault of Barack Obama and members of his administration.
According to FOM, 52 percent of Russian citizens believe that the biggest “threat of the usage of nuclear weapons” is coming from the US, 12 percent – from North Korea, and 9 percent – from Pakistan. “From the country that most often flexes its muscles, people of course expect a nuclear war to start,” said FOM analyst Grigory Kertman. On top of the list of countries with which Russia has the most unfriendly relations, 77 percent of respondents placed the US, 66 percent – Ukraine, and 19 percent – UK.
Dobromelov said that this “hysteria is being heated up” also by the situation in Ukraine. Moreover, “15-20 years ago, Russia’s relations with the US and Europe were more harmonious,” added Grigory Kertman. Petr Topychkanov, expert on nuclear non-proliferation issues at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, considers citizens’ fears as “typical.” He said, “Relations between Russia and the US are conflict-prone, and citizens now realize that the world, as it was painted for them in the early nineties, was never created – and now, nuclear weapons are not something that would never be used.”
Topychkanov sees the positive side in the fear of a nuclear war: “Politicians can continue their negotiations on reducing nuclear weapons, because this is what the people want.” According to the findings of FOM, 76 percent of the people believe that we must strive for universal nuclear disarmament, with only 14 percent being against this. With that, 19 percent also believe that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is possible in the next decade.
This is an abridged version of an article first published in Russian by Kommersant.
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