Russia in Europe: the Cold War in minds?

Russia in Europe: the Cold War in minds?

In a press release sent to the editorial office of Vestnik Kavkaza, the German foundation Körber-Stiftung published the data of the ordered sociological survey about the attitude of the inhabitants of Germany, Poland and Russia to the actual crisis in the relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation.

According to a study conducted by the Kantar Public Center, about every second Russian (49%) believes that Russia belongs to Europe. At the same time, 56% of Germans and 57% of Poles consider Russia a European country. As an important argument in favor of the European essence of Russia, respondents named its geographical location, while common values ​​and culture were, on the contrary, irrelevant. At the same time, many Germans regard the common history and economic ties as important arguments in favor of the fact that Russia is a part of Europe.

It is noteworthy that in comparison with a similar poll conducted in 2016, the percentage of Germans who attribute Russia to Europe grew by 8%. Meanwhile, in Russia, there is a growing number of people who do not consider their country to be European, which, according to the authors of the study, is related to Russians' awareness of their non-European identity in the context of Russia's different history.

In all three countries, respondents agree that the reason for the political chilling between Russia and Europe is the conflict in Ukraine and mutual sanctions. On the question of a further extension of the sanctions, the countries divided in opinions. While 58% of Poles want to maintain or tighten sanctions, 61% of Russians are in favor of their abolition. Germans also could not decide on the issue of sanctions - 46% are in favor of their preservation, and 45% - for the cancellation. It is worth noting the regional division of Germany on this issue: while the most of East Germans (the territory of the former GDR) want to abolish or ease the sanctions, the most of their Western co-citizens want to preserve or even tighten up the restrictions.

Despite the continuing political crisis between Russia and the EU countries, most of the respondents in Russia, Poland and Germany are in favor of the mutual rapprochement of their countries. The head of the focal group ‘Russia in Europe’ of the Körber Foundation, Gabriele Woidelko, believes that three years after Crimea’s accession to Russia, the Ukrainian conflict remains the greatest burden for the Russian-European relations. According to Woidelko, a clear desire for the rapprochement is a clear signal to politicians that a solution to the conflict should be found in the near future.

The question of whether it is appropriate to close this chapter in the history and do not to touch it any more 70 years after the end of the World War II, encounters a protest in Russia. About 85% of the polled Russians spoke out against the concluding of the session. At the same time, more than a third of respondents in Germany and Poland spoke for it.