tv Scholars Discuss Public Perceptions of U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN April 9, 2019 5:27am-7:00am EDT
next a look at the public perceptions of u.s. russia relations, the 2016 presidential election and at the summit the summit in helsinki became president of trump and putin. the two-year study was conducted by the chicago council on global affairs and russia center. from the center for strategic and international studies, this is an hour and a half. >> i'm pleased to welcome you to the discussion on the u.s. russia relationship with the chicago council on global affairs. we talk a lot about the u.s. russia relationship here often from the perspective of washington and moscow and from the perspective of our prospective political leaderships. what they seem to be missing in
a lot of these professions is the sense of the relationship at the grass root, how ordinary people think about the other countries, how they think about the relationship and how those views have changed over time. so, i am pleased to be presiding over the discussion today. which i should also point out is the culmination of a collaborative effort by the chicago council and the love of the center despite all the vagaries in the relationship the last couple of years this is a really good example of an area where there is continued collaboration in a way that is ideally will benefit both our countries and of our countries and societies in terms of being better informed about how we view one another. the collaboration between the two institutions has resulted in publications of this report here. there are copies in the back if you haven't grabbed one already i would encourage you to do that. we will have a discussion with
our panel they are going to present some slight highlighting the key findings of the study. then we are going to open up for discussion. we are on the record and i would ask everybody to turn off their cell phones and other devices. if there are no objections let me start by introducing the panel to my immediate left is denise, analyst in the development department at the center in moscow. to his left is diana smeltz on foreign policy at the chicago council on global affairs and to her left is louis, associate of the chicago council and then on the far left -- this joke is always funny [inaudible] senior research fellow at the levada center. they will present slightly together collaboratively and
then we will trade off a little bit and open up for discussions. so, with that -- >> thank you all for coming today. we are excited to share with you the results of the project. we are deeply, deeply grateful to the carnegie corporation who funded this study. the project is really to identify opportunities for relations in the u.s. russia bilateral relationship and from this perception on both sides that contribute to the current tensions. the survey in the u.s. is conducted by the public affairs international research firm for the nationwide online panel that is represented in the population of the united states and it was
conducted february 25 across the country. the chicago council has been conducting these surveys since 1974 so we have over 40 years of doing the surveys and one of the things we looked at is over time the results. and the levada center also has been conducting research for decades. at the attendance cometh you want to tell them about the methodology? scenic hello, everyone. thank you for coming. [inaudible] it's face-to-face [inaudible] we use this as an opportunity
for the perception of the united states and the rest in general but also to get an understanding and because when we developed our questionnaire collaboratively we've had good discussions about it and it's a good way to look at the subject from different points of view and we try to do this from both sides. >> we've all learned from each other. public opinion is often affected by the media and the media has a
lot of focus on the relationships in dc this on both sides of the public opinion. we are talking about some key highlights and we are going to touch on some of these through the slides and then we can expand later with a deeper discussion depending on what your questions are. watching the relationship as a rivalry rather than a relationship interestingly though the research we've done shows both sides the american people in russian people there is still some hope for the public diplomacy arena. they support pretty much the international foreign policy of the government. they think that helps increase their international profile and
they support the annexation of crania and think it is a good thing and have done so in 2016. they support independence in eastern ukraine and they seem to think that poor relations with the united states is just the cost of this increase prominence in countering u.s. policy. americans on the other hand also consider russia's international profile to be increasing in the world and they are more threatened now than they were before about russia but it's not like a fear of international terrorism or proliferation. something that's interesting on the american side is that there are partisan differences whether
you are republican or democrat influences your views on cooperating with the world and that his new so before this recent period of time, republicans and democrats stepped up similarly about russia because the political issues and now this has become a more polarized issue. finally, there are still some areas of concern especially working towards common policies and common ways to address terrorism and nuclear proliferation highlighted by some of the research we've done on the withdrawal from the treaty where many on both sides oppose the countries withdraw from the agreement. so, those are the highlights. >> one of the questions we asked russians and americans is whether or not they perceived
relations with the country as more of a partnership or if they were more viable. both russians and americans largely see the united states and russia as more rivals than partners and americans view the relationship with the european union has more of a partnership but interestingly, we found from the american perspective this year that americans are even more likely to say china is more of a rifle than a partner than they have been in the past. >> we should mention they are partners for the majority that what they see the area to be
[inaudible] when they say russia and china are partners, this view is formed by relations with the rest. there was more concern and the russian public opinion towards china because it's so big. russia is relatively small, certainly smaller than china and we have this russia china relationship. when the conflict begins people feel a business relation with no
other end was rather satisfying and also depends on how russia views the role. here i would like to mention a positive view of germany. in the sense that when conflict broke out we solve very negative feelings towards the european union in general but also towards germany, france and other european countries. these wholesome developed and
that was one of the ties and 1415 and now we see the public opinion towards certain countries because of positive views about this dialogue going on. so the russian public opinion at least other people can understand. >> i think another point about the view towards china as partners while the united states has also placed kurds against china so we've sort of pushed them together in the same
mindset. one other thing to mention it's a little bit of a different question that we often ask in both countries whether the unity among nato allies has grown further together, further apart over about the same and both americans and russians feel there is any risk between europeans and the united states as well. so it's interesting to pick up among the opinion of the news media as well. >> we asked this a few times in a couple of years whether the united states should try to undertake some cooperation and engagement with russia are forced to limit the power.
in the last survey, 55% of americans say we should try to contain russia rather than actively work with russia. it's the republicans who are more likely to say that we should try to be friendly with russia which has been a shift in on the russian side very similar views that believe that russia should try to limit the united states power and 138% think we should undertake engagement and cooperation. >> for me it was questions they asked in this wave and the previous wave of the two countries are so similar on each other and the situations.
very different context. different media. we mentioned at the very beginning that the media shapes the public opinion very much and of course we have different opinions and different channels in the united states and also in russia where they dominate the media landscape. still we've had a lot of similar views >> i mentioned earlier that there were past surveys surveys on the asked question americans generally want to cooperate with the left and most countries even
with [inaudible] they consider groups like hamas, the taliban, iran and back in the day cuba, americans were prepared to talk rather than disregard other countries. so it's interesting that this is a big shift in 2016, 56% thought that we should be friendly towards russia and now that has reversed with a majority saying we should continue. >> from 2016 we asked on the presidential elections, said it was july so that was july and then we asked the question again, december 2017 and we've really captured this visceral reaction to the results particularly among democrats so they were far more likely to say that we should undertake cooperation and engagement with russia before the 2016 election
and then they were though drivers behind this sentiment is working to limit the power. >> it is quite stable. it was the same number and it didn't change. [inaudible] they sometimes can be rather awkward towards each other because at the same time we have the majority who will say that cooperation was needed. at the same time not giving in, just doing what you are doing. so here we see the problem in
the population we would have to make some prospects but the public opinion that's towards the united states we have it in gridlock. we want preparation at the same time. >> we've asked in past surveys if they would like to cooperate on certain issues like climate change or nuclear proliferation and they say yes to cooperate but they have had in mind of their own country's version of what they should cooperate on with their own country's policies, so not necessarily in agreement. i think one of the interesting findings for us when looking at
public opinion the last couple of years and russia in particular has been this increased sense of competence, what you say, and regaining their status as a global player in this graph -- i can't see the number right there, but the majority. >> 56% of russian say that russia has increased its role. it's more important now than it was ten years ago. americans also tend to think that russia is more important now than ten years ago. and for americans, they tend to think our country is less important than ten years ago and that russia is more important. i think this reflects it's not
so much that the u.s. is the only player calling the shots and russians realized that and also the international policy they've made their mark again on the world stage. >> also as we ask about the greatest countries in the superpowers that russia, china and the united states so rush being the most important of course. this is a change from the beginning of the '90s when there was no chance and the understanding and of the importance of it speaking of
this feeling of the united states ruling we must say that it's still considered no question that it's a superpower in russia as well but there is a very dangerous moment feeling the united states is in decline so it's in the public opinion but i would say the public opinion here is the reflection of everything that translated through the media when they say that the united states is losing its strength it may be a good context to act on them at the
same time we have in the public opinion the annexation of crania , but still there's the and also maybe it's the right time to do something right now when we are still strong so maybe it's a very intriguing moment. >> the context of this question is at more important or less important than ten years ago so that's also putting the united states [inaudible] so yes it is an interesting context and dynamic.
also can be seen in how president putin expressed, how he appears in public and what he says in his speeches. he always stresses the importance of military and other economic issues. russia thinks that the greatest success in the last years they had connected with military force is of course a. >> both here in 2017 from the list of the countries that you will see on this figure which
ones pose the greatest security threat to the united states. interestingly in 2017, 59% said that was north korea and it was in the aftermath of the back and forth between blair and our leader and the reflection and the tension of the moment but cut to two years later and the threat perception has decreased the template and that of russia rose particularly among democrats. republicans were more likely to see china poses the biggest threat to security. >> another interesting uptick that we have seen recently is the russian territorial interest and we've seen the highest percentage that it's played a
critical threat to u.s. interests than even 2014 when russia annexed crimea. >> one of the questions is whether people believe russia tried to influence the 2016 the elections. the blue bar represents overall public, 52% of americans believe the intelligence that russia had tried to influence the u.s. and 90% of democrats but only 35% of republicans believe this. february, 2019 before the mueller report came out, it hasn't come out, but the summary
so they don't think that they tried to influence it and in russia -- [inaudible] if you ask directly the majority will say more or less so and when you ask the focus groups the question around the world on the troops in eastern ukraine or crimea before it was announced, the majority would say no, they are not responsible, but in the
focus groups more people were saying probably yes and it was more so the right thing to do. so this is i think the context for considering russia a superpower and also the conduct conflict and that it's the right thing to do and russia interfering into getting caught. if you ask directly to come but
it has its cost and i would say you can see a bit baltimore and more with the economic crisis and also the reform being introduced more and more people started asking questions and at the same time, and this is one of the important but at the same time we see people like this in the world the majority saying
that it's the right thing to do and people are fools but at the same time questioning whether it is worth doing again or if it is contradicting the public opinion and maybe one of the explanations of why we have so many contradicting tribes that is the result not of many people putting these things together. on russia you can hear the policy and not many people speaking publicly.
more privately on the focus groups we see more and more people with questions but it's not in the public opposition, partly it's because there wasn't any public opposition. and those that express opposition are discredited and there is no credible space in the public sphere. >> an interesting point is use all described previously they think russia is a rising military power and here we see
that as connecting to the foreign policy. >> when we asked about the policy in general, the military operation so much as the ukraine and on the context of the question. >> two more things, we talk a little bit about the impact on the economy and standards of living but also registering the large majority say that it's worse than the relationship with the united states but if you look at the levada center poll and the reaction to the russian
foreign policy, i get the sense that they don't care that it's impacted their relationship in the united states. it's if they should continue acting in their own interest and they think that they should act in their own interest regardless of the reaction. it's seen as a benefit to its international influence and a reflection of their capabilities the plurality say that it's improved a 42% say that it's worse than that is more of a reaction so some people see it in their capability.
of democrats say that they have not gone far enough and overall that's 36%, so it's another split between republicans and democrats that isn't necessarily tied to so much to the actual awareness of what's in the sanctions and underlining reasons why they are there, but more about political preferences and be legitimacy of donald trump to get to the heart of the questions of interference and it would be a strike against the presidency if they agreed to. >> we also ask this was in 2017, the various stakes we ask them
where neither wants to get super involved in a domestic dispute. it's more about combating international terrorism. and a common goal for russia for a long time americans want to support crushing isis but not helping the rebel force in syria >> the population are a little bit more the government understands that a and also
also americans are more likely to see a threat and it is like a eb threat. it is not to the same level and a lot more pressing urgent matters. at the same time, 2000 and two was the first time we did the survey in september 11. that was a point where the public was wanting to take action on the american public. and after several years in afghanistan. and after so much blood and treasure. they were not able to maintain that support. in my work for a while but if the public does not see any success and if it is not done within the reasonable lot of
time. >> but i would also say that the most important instrument is more important of a feeling of an alternative. and i would say the conflict and having an enemy helps to discredit your apartment. it is not exactly to mobilize but to help explain actions. if there is no united states the need to explain why you're going there. also making it more manageable. in an instrument of what is important of the relationship.
>> okay. >> cry challenger assessment as to positive and optimistic because if you come to resolve the american public opinion in mr. putin in support of russia asset or nicolas muduro or north korean leader, or crimea it be much more depressing. at some ray of hope in the side. two questions, again, how would you describe such a huge discrepancy between republicans and democrats in russia.
have you not seen any other areas of politics and policies in the united states? you have not -- you have shown here the numbers but you know. [inaudible] the crimea against -- you would come to such events like who killed or who tried to poison, those russians who think that it was of dissent. those russians who think who hit and made 17 is 1%.
all others are the ukrainians, americans, british, foreign agents and so on. how would you describe this unthinkable low percentage of russians and similar in much smaller why do they think in such a way. >> i would like to challenge her assertion back that since the iraq war there have been growing divisions between representative outcome hundred republicans and democrats against foreign policy. not just with russia i would argue more a reflection of domestic politics than actually foreign policy but we see huge divides on immigration, climate change between republicans and democrats and tried to think of some of the issues we have.
the defense spending, it used to be the differences stopped at the water's edge. but since then there have been very big differences. >> russia in particular we have a similar question to the bottle, we have a rating on how americans feel about a different country, since 1982 we have been asking the soviet union and then russia. russia is an interesting case right now because americans used to be fairly cohesive on how they viewed moscow. it wasn't until after the election in 2016 that we solve the split and interestingly enough, you think about
republicans typically as being hawkish on russia and the soviet union. we sell republican opinion on russia improve. between 2017 and 2018 whereas democratic opinion has deteriorated. it's a very interesting case and i think it is a reflection of rally and support behind the president. we have asked in this particular survey, there were very few questions where there wasn't a difference. so the one most notable was arms-control. we asked whether americans or russians were coming to an agreement to nuclear weapons, for the united states 90% of republicans favored coming to an agreement and 89% of democrats also favor coming to an agreement. that was really it in terms of cohesion from americans across both parties in this one. we asked a series of questions on russia and syria in 2018.
and we found that on the very issue, russia's involvement and is syria there was a lot of cohesion between democrats and republicans in sort of foreign policy. if you take true out of the equation, which is hard to do sometimes, you do find their united. but as soon as there is a hint at trump's we see a gap in democrats and republicans. >> the gaps were all about the election interference because sanctions, there were very big differences and it's all because democrats will tend to stay in fresh interviews then this is the thinking. if the election had been tipped with then trump was illegitimately elected. so that is really what the
emphasis is. and 80% -- 80 something% of republicans now have a positive opinion of term. it is become a partisan debate. on the broader foreign policy issue regarding russia is not as great as the divide. but basically, as i said the outset is a reflection of domestic politics. >> okay. further questions. right here. >> it depends on the question. yes or no, the answer will be no. no enrollment. if you ask who, the most popular answer that there much for
people that russia is responsible. but they choose an open question, the front question, they choose not to answer. so because it's kind of a situation. >> thank you. i'm a journalist. it is clear and the american respondents there is a divide between republicans and democrats. in the russian respondents, one of you when you're talking about the crimea question talked about a divide between those who had and had not benefited from putin's policies. is that or is there another consistent divide in the russian
answers that are comparable to the person divide and americans? thanks. >> one group is anti- putin so other prominent groups with differences in relation of putin's policies. for example,. [inaudible] there are some differences in terms of people following independent news regularly or not. and whether they, another group gets a criticism of putin into groups. those who are following independent media and those who are not.
[inaudible] >> there is some differences but not very big. >> the one thing we were talking about before it be interesting to see the dinner under generational divide. >> they also have left over view and they traditionally full corporation and slightly more than other age groups. you asked them questions about crimea, and it seems like they have maybe less ideological
frames. maybe they're kind of -- they're not very interested in politics at all. in such issues like crimea or eastern part of ukraine, they are not interested in picture and her preferred to stay on their official line. >> okay. thank you. sometimes counsel general,. [inaudible] one of the categories that you may not have asked about is there a split between nonbelievers and believers? crimea was a great step forward for the patriotic.
and it was a great setback in this had considerable influence when i was there. >> if i understood right, but of course, there are different views. and it depends on the question. because while crimea is a more concern, but if you look at the difference of questions like syria, syria is already of big portion of the population that don't know how to relate in a depends on the issue not the the opinion is always important in the states policy but because of
this russia has much propaganda because even with ukraine we had the majority was a gift in russia's involvement. they say no troops, no money, to let them be and enjoy what they wanted. in other countries had the benefit. in russia had the change of how the news was delivered through kind of a raw state mode of activation of the media. so they had to convince the people that russia has to get involved and they done so through huge methods of propaganda . . .
>> there was a difference they kind of lead with what was said in every church in russia on sundays. >> do you think there are millions who found themselves living in independent states after the breakup of the soviet union who still are affiliated and if so how does their opinion differ from the opinion of russia? >> we usually deal with russia only they do study them and i'm
expect things to shift that much especially since crania has been stable. they shouldn't make concessions the majority think so. >> is it clear exactly what the conditions would have to be? would they have to take off each? >> others may have different views on this but i think the u.s. policy has been somewhat muddled on this issue because there've been different rounds of sanctions in response to different activities and to some of them are linked to specific policy choices for example getting out of crania are implementing the agreement. others were in response to the
things that have happened in the past and the way to impose costs and extend the message in regards to your conclusion that they see each other as rivals what do you think would be to happen organically or by putting work on that side of that could change the mentality of both americans and russians. >> the piece of positive news is among the public there is still good will to work on, so a lot of diplomatic exchanges and exchanges of experts which have happened a lot in previous
decades. that's where things should start so maybe there would be grassroot feelings or pressure to improve things. one area of potential even though they withdrew from the treaty they thought that it was a mistake to do so this is an area we had working level experts having a dialogue all the time on these types of issues and we are still having some dialogue on deconstructing and serious debate coast -- deconstructing syria and there is a better time when the united states domestic political
situation is intense in a partisan way that maybe we could pick up and build on that. i used to work for the state department and i think there is a great role that's how we met actually as part of an exchange program at the state department but those kind of interactions are really important especially in this environment now. >> professor university in maryland thank you for a fascinating presentation. i have a point to your question i've been teaching politics for 25 years and i've never been more popular, so i think that the news for me is my students, my undergraduate students are much were interested in learning
lessons, so i think if there is a silver lining is there. if i studied the media, to ask anything of media used particularly by the russians? >> not in this project, but we monitor together for a couple of years and another round will be in a month or so. tv is going down the internet is going up. >> i did my dissertation research 25 years ago but the other point i want to make quickly the media might be an intervening variable for some of the differences in opinion because we know not all
republicans support trumps almost all supporters are republicans and we no-trump supporters tend to live in a media bubble and they are much fonder of media outlets such as fox news and breitbart which has been good research on that so i'm wondering if the coverage of russia is different on those outlets in some way that might be driving these changes so that the research project for me. >> it might not have changed that much necessarily on the left leaning i this more negatie and more prominent. >> thank you very much. .. since
you did the exclusive survey how much is controlled for exact language to be the questionnaire following each other, open-ended questions and things like that, how imperative -- [inaudible] i don't know if you had this kind of question. >> we started out with topics we wanted to cover and sometimes they started with one of ours and we definitely have to adjust some of the language. we tried to mirror each other's questions as much as possible so that they could be direct
comparisons but some only had russian data or american because it's a different context and different questions were appropriate. >> we have a little bit of back and forth on translation when we are working on it. he was kind of e-mail back and forth like is this the right word to use, so we get quite a spots when we have parallel question to make sure they are as close as possible. >> we did interview open-ended for this particular study because we had budget constrai constraint, but another survey that will be coming out soon, we had a mini open in question on different personalities and people recognized from each country so that should be coming out soon. >> there is another hand in the back. >> thank you very much.
>> i was just wondering regarding, first of all thank you very much for this excellent survey, but i'm regarding the presidential election we see very high numbers they're particularly democrats saying it is fairly likely that there was russian involvement in the election. i'm wondering how much did the mueller investigation factored into that high amounts and do we think it might change therefore now that the investigation is coming to a conclusion? >> it's hard to say how much that would have affected it. the people that follow news about the relation probably have hopes that their would be a more
solid outcome from that but we will have to see how it has changed things. although the mueller report did pretty much indoors with the intelligence community finally had on it. of course again i don't even know the few summaries from the points that came out. we will have to see if there has been any impact. but that would be very interesting to see. actually, we did see over time but there was a little bit of an increase from 61% i think to 66% saying that russia interfered in between the two, so there was a little bit before the recent highlights have come out. >> that it was around the same time that mueller was indicting the russian national. that's kind of the interesting thing about how it's been
reported on in the u.s. were talked about in the u.s., but the report did find that there were russian involvement in the election it just happened earlier than the most recent report. >> we are out of time, so i want to thank you all for joining us. if you haven't done so please, take a copy of the report from the back of the room and join me in thanking the panel. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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