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Levada poll: Russians consider Baltic countries a threat

Banners supporting Ukraine tied to temporary railings outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn.
Banners supporting Ukraine tied to temporary railings outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn. Source: Helen Wright / ERR

Residents of Russia consider relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to be strained and believe the Baltics to be hostile and a threat to Russia, a poll commissioned by the Estonian MFA and carried out by the Levada Center in Moscow reveals.

Asked about Russia's relations with western neighbors, respondents were the most positive about Belarus that scored 1-2 on a scale of 1-16 ranging from positive to negative. Finland and Norway were given a score of 7-8.

Regarding Estonia, scores differed by city and age group, with people under 40 in Kaliningrad giving relations a score of 9 and those over 40 in Moscow and under 40 in Pskov a score of 14. Most people landed on 11.

The scores were even more negative for Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Relations with Ukraine merited the maximally negative score of 16 from most respondents.

While the general attitude towards Estonia has not changed much, residents of Russia have become more critical of the Estonian government.

Baltic states perceived as dangerous

On a similar scale where respondents had to assess the level of threat different countries posed to Russia, the Baltics were on par at 4-8, with 1 being the greatest possible threat.

The threat posed by Ukraine got the maximum score of 1, while Poland "scored" 3. The Finnish threat merited a score of 8-9, with Norway perceived as less dangerous still.

Threat from Belarus most often merited the lowest possible score of 16.

Focus group interviews revealed that the Russians are critical of the Baltics for joining NATO and find that they surrendered their independence once more in doing so. Respondents also suggested that Estonians hate Russia, obstruct the use of Russian, are rewriting World War II history and removing monuments, as well as that NATO tanks are standing by for an invasion in Narva.

Support for Ukraine war down slightly

The Levada poll also found that support for the war in Ukraine has fallen slightly.

If last March, 81 percent of respondents supported the Russian invasion, this had fallen to 75 percent in June and 71 percent in December.

The report comes as phase two of a poll titled "Russians about
Estonia, Baltic states, Europe, Russia" that questioned 1,600 people and carried out focus group interviews in five cities: Moscow, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Pskov and Kingissepp.

The presentation of survey results was organized on Tuesday by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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