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Recently, the Washington Post published results of a new study conducted in 25 countries by American experts from the Pew Research Center. It indicates that despite all the difficulties Moscow faced, the outgoing 2018 was a year of Russia's growing influence on the global stage.
The study revealed that President Vladimir Putin managed to find ways to project influence around the world, in spite of numerous challenges, particularly sanctions imposed by the United States and a number of other countries, specific geopolitical isolation and reputation for being tough.
According to the survey, an average of 34 percent of respondents in 25 countries have a positive view of both Russia and its activity in the world. In some countries this figure even exceeds 50 percent: the Philippines (63 percent), Tunisia (55 percent), South Korea (53 percent,) and Greece (52 percent).
The Pew Research Center study notes that in the world's key regions like the Middle East, Moscow has never enjoyed such influence since the Soviet era and often poses challenges to the United States. In this regard, respondents primarily note rivalry between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump for the minds of people around the world.
Since the survey was conducted by an American sociological research center, its experts could not help touching upon Russia's possible intervention in significant world events. Its leader Vladimir Putin, whom the West often accuses of involving in global politics – for instance, efforts to shape the 2016 US presidential elections or attempted assassination of retired Russian military intelligence colonel Sergey Skripal in the UK – is perceived in an extremely negative way (63 percent) in many countries of the study.
As you can see, Western propaganda is yielding results, and many people in the world believe anything the newspapers, TV shows and radio programs say about our country. Unfortunately, we have to admit that the West is virtually lacking media sources to tell the truth about Russia and adduce convincing evidence in support of their accusations against Moscow.
But regardless of a vibrant anti-Russian campaign in the West and distortion of Russia's real moves on the world stage, the Pew Research Center claims that 26 percent of those polled in all the 25 countries believe that Vladimir Putin is taking the right steps in international politics.
The new study has convincingly shown the growing proportion of people who believe in Russia's increasing influence in the world. An average 42 percent of those polled say that present-day Moscow plays a more significant role as compared to a decade ago. For reference: only 19 percent of respondents believe that it has decreased, and 28 percent – that it remains the same.
At the same time, the survey data suggest that in North America, Europe and the Middle East Russia's growing influence is more noticeable than in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Respondents from Greece and Israel more often than others pointed to the increase in Russia's influence across the globe.
According to Pew Research Center experts, to raise its world rating Russia has taken both costly foreign policy steps, such as the military campaign in Syria, and relatively low-cost measures like spreading fake news, which had a substantial impact on international affairs.
Let the false allegations that Russia used disinformation to raise its global stature remain on the conscience of American sociologists, but it is really difficult to disagree that in Syria Moscow has asserted its increased military power and thus enhanced its prestige.
One cannot ignore the study's section regarding the popularity of Vladimir Putin in Russia. Pew Research Center sociologists noted that it remains extremely high, and even despite a slight decrease (to 66 percent) is still to be envied by many Western politicians. Compare this with popularity ratings of such Western leaders as German Chancellor Angela Merkel (54 percent), US President Donald Trump (44 percent), British Prime Minister Theresa May (30 percent), and French President Emmanuel Macron (5 percent).
The study also notes that most problems Vladimir Putin faces relate to domestic affairs, while scoring the key "points" are his foreign policy moves. Thus, according to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Russians believe that nowadays their country plays a more significant role on the global stage than 10 years ago. Apparently, American sociologists are not that far from the truth...