Twenty years after the Warsaw Pact, VTsIOM asked Russians what they think, looking back, about the former Soviet glacis in Eastern Europe.
The poll was done 18-19 June with 1,600 respondents in 138 populated areas of 46 RF subjects, and a margin of error not exceeding 3.4%.
First and foremost, two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed didn’t know or remember why the Warsaw Pact existed.
Asked which time period was most secure, calm, and stable internationally, 55% said the 1960s-1980s, 4% said the 1990s, the Yeltsin era, and only 28% said the present day. Four years ago, the numbers were 47%, 5%, and 34% respectively.
According to VTsIOM, those groups most likely to think the Soviet era most secure are Communists, pensioners, the poorly-educated, and non-Internet users. Those most likely to see today as more stable are United Russia members, young people, the well-educated, and Internet users.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents look back on the Pact as a defensive, peaceloving, and stabilizing force. Only 6% say it was militaristic, or held Eastern European countries in an unfree condition.
Eighty percent think Russia lost more than it won when the Pact dissolved twenty years ago. Ten years ago, 78 percent thought Russia lost more.
Finally, those surveyed were asked if Russia needs, or doesn’t need, to create an international military-political bloc like the Warsaw Pact or NATO. Overall, 51% of respondents said it’s needed, 23% said it’s not, and 26% found it difficult to answer. This question was broken out some along the political spectrum without many significant variations.
VTsIOM missed the chance to ask if respondents know Russia already has an international military-political alliance. Their answers to a question about the Collective Security Treaty Organization would be fascinating, to be sure.
The answers to the questions that were asked are a little surprising and disturbing. Some of them can be attributed simply to feckless nostalgia or the persistence of Cold War propaganda. Some are due to a tendency to equate (or confuse) domestic or internal well-being with the country’s external security situation. Finally, some may come from genuinely perceived threats and insecurities Russians feel today.