tv Scholars Discuss Public Perceptions of U.S.- Russia Relations CSPAN April 13, 2019 5:54am-7:26am EDT
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a new survey has been released on how americans and russians perceive the other country. the study was conducted over 2 years, and covered the 2016 presidential election. scholars at the center for strategic and international studies discussed findings of the next hour and a half. welcome, i am jeff with the russia and eurasia program. i am here to welcome you to the russia relationship, with the chicago council on global affairs. we talked a lot about
the u.s.-russia relationship, from the perspective of washington and moscow, and the perspective of our respective leaderships. what we are missing in many of these discussions is a sense of how the relationship looks at the grassroots. how ordinary people think about the other country, how they think about the relationship, and how the views have changed over time. i am pleased to be presiding over the discussion today. i should also point out, this is the culmination of a collaborative effort by the chicago council. despite the vagaries in u.s. russia relations, this is a great example of an area where the continued collaboration is happening in a way that will benefit both countries and societies in terms of being better informed of how we view one another. >> the collaboration between
these two institution has resulted in the publication of this report. there copies in the back. i encourage you to grab a copy. we will have a discussion with our panel. they will present slides highlighting the key findings of their study. we will open it up for discussion. we are on the record. i would ask everybody to turn off their cell phones and noisemaking devices. if there are no objections, let me start by introducing the panel. my immediate left is denise, who is the analyst and head of the development department in moscow. this is dena phelps, senior fellow on foreign-policy at the chicago council and global affairs, that is lily [ indiscernible ], research analyst. on the far left, physically,
not politically, that joke is always funny. they will present the slides that they put together collaboratively as a result of the research. they will trade off a little bit. then we will open it up for discussion. with that, go for it. >> thank you for coming today. we are excited to share the results of this project. we are deeply grateful for the carnegie corporations who funded this study. the project is to identify opportunities for proved relations on both sides. the survey in the united states was conducted by public affairs.
this is an international, survey research firm. they use an address based, nationwide, online panel that is representative of the population of the united states. it was conducted february 22-25 across the country. the chicago council has been conducting the survey since 1974. we have 40 years of experience doing these surveys. one key thing we look at is changes over time. they have been conducting research for decades. you can tell them about the methodology. >> hello, thank you for coming. >> this is conducted face-to- face. it is 1600 people in 18 spots.
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. >> we asked not only the overall importance and how influential are other countries but also about military powers were russia just seems like they believe in the military power and russian importance and influence ban on the economic success and this feeling is
given by media of course and it 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
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.
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
which is understood to states don't have enough money for pensions but for everyone else around the world it's in this context on this question we saw a growing number of people that left that state and we see that there is divided in the u.s. public opinion so those who do not approve come tuesday the
americans say that it's been about right and that includes 71% of republicans and then 49% 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.
and support it. it's interesting that there are still some common perceptions 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
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
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
differences in big believers. >> 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
>> again because it was just a two-year framework we didn't 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. fascinating conversation. i did work on surveys and i apologize for the question 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]