Most Russians optimistic about future, more united against external sanctions: experts
Photo of Moscow: VCG
As Western countries impose the toughest sanctions on Russia, opinion polls suggest that the number of Russians optimistic about the future has risen dramatically, which local experts say shows that the character of the Russian people is to be more united as their country comes under pressure.
The latest polls show that nearly 50% of Russians are confident in the country’s future. At the same time, the proportion of Russians supporting the special military operation in Ukraine has risen sharply, according to a recent report by Sputnik News.
From interviews with ordinary Russians, the Global Times found that they had different expectations for the future under Western sanctions. But most of them interviewed say they have full confidence in the unity of the country.
Western sanctions will encourage Russia to be more independent from Western influence and strengthen its economic and political autonomy, Oleg Ivanov, deputy head of the Department for International and National Security, told the Global Times. from the Moscow Diplomatic Academy.
“Now Russia needs to further develop its own high-tech industries that will bring more benefits to the country and help raise living standards,” he said.
The optimism shown in the polls
According to the March 30 Sputnik report, about half of Russians surveyed believe their livelihoods will be better in three to five years. A total of 49% of respondents think life will become “better than now” in the future, compared to just 25% of respondents in December 2021.
Meanwhile, 19% of people think “life won’t change”; 13% think it is ‘likely to get worse’ and 18% said it was ‘difficult to answer’.
After the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the United States and its allies imposed a series of harsh sanctions on Russia in almost every area, but the Russians’ confidence in the future seems to bewilder the outside world.
“So far the sanctions have not affected my life at all. I will find replacements for these products in Russia,” Stas, 27, told the Global Times. “I’m not scared and I believe it will get better.”
“The sanctions directly affected my life because my salary depends on the state budget, which is now in trouble because of the sanctions. But all these problems can be solved,” said Vasily, a 29-year-old civil servant. World times. “I will strongly feel the departure of some Western companies from Russia because I grew up in Moscow. However, I do not pay attention to their return to our country.”
“I am not afraid of new sanctions, because the most severe sanctions have already been applied to Russia, causing significant damage to all the pillar industries and companies on which we depend. But the fact is that they have succeeded in survive,” Vasily said.
“The Western sanctions against us are aimed at destroying our country. But we believe that under the leadership of President Putin, we will overcome the current difficulties and get rid of the pressure from the West, and the future of the country will be better. Russia is a great nation that will not succumb to outside pressure,” said a Russian netizen.
Russians increasingly united
But where does the optimism of Russians come from in these difficult times?
Some experts noted that most Russians believe that after Russia launched a special military operation against Ukraine, Russia’s national security was further guaranteed.
According to a March 5 poll, up to 71% of Russians support “special military operations” in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, people trust President Putin more. A majority of Russians (79%) approve of Putin’s work, and almost the same number (81%) expressed confidence in him, Sputnik News reported on April 1.
Moreover, Russia has a vast territory and rich resources. There is no problem ensuring that people’s most basic needs are met, although their quality of life may be affected.
Finally, Russians are a very stress-resistant people, and the greater the pressure, the stronger their resilience will be, experts noted.
Under the sanctions, Russia’s national character was better reflected at a critical moment in history. They were able to unite with national leaders at a critical time, said a Russian socialist.
“In my opinion, Russia has a strong historical memory associated with participation in wars. Patriotic education and propaganda of the past decade, associated with honoring the people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 , have strengthened this important component of the historical memory of the Russian people,” said Sergey Biryukov, a professor at the Siberian Institute of Management in Novosibirsk in Russia.
Russians, for the most part, truly understand that an adequate response to external threat and military pressure is “the use of force”, which requires the concentration of the efforts of the whole society, he noted. .
His opinion was echoed by Ivanov, who said: “We are the nation that is ready to fight directly and indirectly for our independence and sovereignty. I think it is normal for any country to want to shape its own destiny without outside interference. Freedom is not cheap.”
Vasily, the official, said “the world we were in from 1991 to February 2022 no longer exists, and it will change rapidly. The post-Soviet model has been eliminated.”
People walk past an exchange office displaying the exchange rates of the US dollar and euro to Russian rubles in Moscow, February 28, 2022. Photo: VCG
In interviews with Russian citizens, the Global Times found that, facing the future, people have different attitudes, trust and concern coexisting.
The picture of the future is blurred in the minds of Russians, as older and middle-aged people take their experiences more seriously, while the younger generation has yet to fully realize the profound changes that will affect their lives, according to Biryukov.
In a trending video clip on the Russian internet, it sings that “McDonald’s is closed, which is good. I don’t have to go there anymore, I can eat normally now, and it’s more affordable. You walk past mcdonalds, [and see] oh, it’s closed, that’s fine. I just go to the grocery store to buy yogurt and bread instead.”
Ruslan, 26, told the Global Times that “sanctions cannot affect us. We will get through this. We will be better. The Russians will probably take over the commercial space market which was previously occupied by Western companies.”
Contrary to such a surge of optimism, a citizen of Moscow expressed his concerns.
“Because of the sanctions against Russia, prices have gone up, the ruble has depreciated and people’s personal wealth has gone down. Unemployment and inflation have remained high. Life could be harder,” he said. he told the Global Times. His salary fell from $2,000 to $950 due to the devaluation of the ruble.
Like many cases in Moscow, Ruslan is his family’s sole source of income. He feared that the sanctions would last for many years.
Currently, life in Russia under severe sanctions is indeed difficult. Recently, although food prices have remained virtually stable under strict government control, there have been shortages of commodities, including office supplies and medicines.
For example, a package of Svetocopy brand standard A4 printing paper has gone from 179 rubles ($2.09) to 2,999 rubles. The prices of some brands of paper have even been multiplied by 20.
It’s hard to imagine a country with a fifth of the world’s forest cover running out of paper. The reason for the shortage is that foreign countries have stopped exporting bleach to Russia.
In addition, the Russian people are concerned that Western sanctions have led to drug shortages and price increases, and that some drug prices have increased.
Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that some people are worried about the future due to the continued shortage and rising prices of daily necessities that are directly related to ordinary people.
“The Russian economy has the potential to withstand maximum pressure without being completely torn apart, but its resilience has its limits and of course the consequences of the sanctions already imposed by the United States and the EU will greatly harm the Russian economy. but will not be able to destroy it entirely,” Danil Bochkov, an expert at the Russian Council for International Affairs, told the Global Times.
“Russia has other alternatives in Asia to divert part of the exports traditionally sent to the EU, but this will take time and enormous financial resources. So, in the meantime, the quality of life in Russia as well as people’s wellbeing is feeling the impact of Western sanctions,” he said.
“Of course, Russia has been through difficult times, because of the sanctions. However, in the last 8 years, Russia has largely adapted to them, so they will bring more difficulties but will not ruin the country. “, said Ivanov. .
“Also, Russia is not alone in the world. It has reliable and powerful partners like China, and other countries are ready to lend a hand to help resist this huge pressure from the West. “, he noted.