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Poll: Most Russians Oppose Sending Troops to Syria

Russian soldiers march during the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Red Square in Moscow, May 9, 2015.

A recent poll found that Russians said they backed their country’s policy in Syria but were much less supportive of the idea of sending Russian troops to fight there.

The poll was conducted September 18-21 by the independent Levada Center in 46 of Russia’s 85 regions.

Asked whether they supported the Russia government’s policy toward Syria, 39 percent of the respondents said that they supported it fully or to a significant extent, while 11 percent said they definitely or to a certain extent disapproved. Thirty–three percent of those polled said they were not interested in the Russian government’s policy toward Syria, while 17 percent said they had difficulty answering the question.

Asked what goals their government was pursuing in backing Bashar al-Assad’s government, 39 percent of the respondents said “protecting Russian interests in the Middle East, providing security for Russian companies in the region”; 28 percent said “trying to strengthen Russia’s position in the world, its authority and independence from the West”; 22 percent said trying to halt the spread in the influence of the Islamic State group and radical Islam and protect Russia’s southern borders; 19 percent said protecting the remaining pro-Russian regimes in the Middle East; 14 percent said “protecting Syria’s population from Islamic terrorists and extremists"; 19 percent said they had a hard time answering the question. (More than one answer was allowed).

Asked what kind of aid to Syria’s government they supported, 67 percent of the respondents said “political and diplomatic,” 55 percent said “humanitarian,” 43 percent said “military-technical (consultations, weaponry),” 41 percent said “economic,” 21 percent said taking in and assisting refugees, and 14 percent said “direct military support (sending troops).” (More than one answer was allowed).

Russia has been sending aircraft and other military equipment into Syria in an apparent effort to support the Assad government.

That support directly conflicts with the U.S. position that Assad has lost legitimacy and needs to step down.

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