In the Thick of It

A blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship
Russia's main trading partners
As relations between the West and Russia went from bad to worse in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, one consequence has been Moscow’s decision to strengthen ties with China, while devoting less energy to attempts at cooperation with the U.S. and EU.

Relations between Russia and China have become so close that some policy influentials on both sides have begun to advocate a military-political union between their two countries. (See the summaries of two recent Russian press reports below.)

However, while the post-Cold War Sino-Russian rapprochement has definitely accelerated since the Ukraine crisis, one should bear in mind that Russia’s “pivot” from West to East is a longer-term trend in terms of bilateral trade opportunities and public opinion.

On the latter point, take a look at these polls conducted by Russia’s most prominent independent pollster, the Levada Center (see one above).
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We at Russia Matters tend to treat claims by state-owned pollsters with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to political rankings. Nevertheless, we feel compelled to share the results of the following survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) in May, as it gives some fascinating insights into ordinary Russians’ thinking about nuclear-, biological- and chemical-weapons threats to their country.

When asked to assess what actor is most likely to launch an attack using weapons of mass destruction against Russia, respondents said they view the United States, al-Qaeda and “Chechen terrorists” as the first, second and third likeliest sources of such an attack, respectively. (A decade ago Russians ranked those potential attackers in the reverse order.)
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