How does the Russian military look in the public’s eye? The Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) asked recently, and the answers showed a fairly substantial improvement in the average citizen’s view of the capabilities of the armed forces.
The poll indicates the constant Russian media drumbeat on rearmament has affected public perceptions of the military’s capabilities. Its unopposed march through Crimea this spring probably contributed as well, but no survey questions addressed this.
FOM asked, if extra government funding were available, would respondents use it on military or civilian needs. Those polled still strongly prefer civilian uses (55% vs. 61% in early 2012).
Seventy-four percent of those surveyed now think the armed forces are capable of ensuring the country’s security (vs. only 49% in early 2013). Those who think not dropped to seven percent (vs. 23% in 2013).
In response to an open follow-up question, 21 percent said the military is capable because it has all combat equipment it needs.
Asked if the military’s combat capability is increasing, decreasing, or not changing, 64 percent said increasing (vs. 38% in 2013). Only 12 percent said not changing (vs. 30% in 2013).
In an open follow-up, 20 percent said expedited outfitting, development of defense industry, and new weapons are all necessary for increasing the combat capability of the armed forces.
At the same time, 63 percent indicated Russia has a sufficient amount of modern arms and equipment (vs. 43% in 2013). Sixty-five percent think the share of modern weapons is increasing; 41 percent thought so in 2013.
The survey also asked respondents to rate their knowledge of the situation and problems in the armed forces. These numbers were basically unchanged. In this survey and in 2013, less than 30 percent said they knew them “well” or considered themselves “not badly” informed. Slightly less than 70 percent said they didn’t know much or were poorly informed.
But, as the saying goes, opinions are something everyone has.
About one-third reported having relatives, friends, or acquaintances in the military; about two-thirds said they don’t.
The poll was done on 23-24 August with responses from 1,500 participants in 43 regions and 100 populated areas. Its margin of error is not greater than 3.6 percent.
FOM also offers a complete breakdown of its survey results from the webpage for those who’d like to download them. It shows them by age, sex, political preference, education, income, etc.