Polls: Russians and Americans Agree Their Countries Heading for New Arms Race

March 22, 2019

The United States and Russia are on track to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in August, leaving few constraints on their nuclear forces. According to two new binational surveys conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Analytical Center, majorities of both Russians and Americans worry that the two countries are heading for a new arms race but have mixed reactions to the INF withdrawal.

The reports, “Russians Say Their Country Is A Rising Military Power,” and “American and Russians Agree: We’re Heading for A New Arms Race,” find that Russians believe their country is once again a global power and view chilled relations with the United States as the cost of increased international influence.

Key findings from the reports include:

  • Large majorities of Russians (85 percent) and Americans (78 percent) say the United States and Russia are more rivals than partners. Seven in ten in both countries say that the countries are headed for a new arms race (72 percent in Russia, 70 percent in the United States).
  • In Russia, majorities believe their country’s recent foreign policy has worsened relations with the United States (78 percent), Russia’s economic situation (58 percent) and Russian living standards (64 percent).
  • At the same time, however, Russians think the Kremlin’s policies have improved their country’s influence abroad (62 percent) and the state of their military (83 percent). In fact, they describe their country as a rising (83 percent) rather than declining (4 percent) military power, at even higher levels than China (77 percent rising) and the United States (63 percent).
  • In the United States, more of the US public now consider Russia a threat to U.S. security than when last asked in 2017 (39 percent, up from 18 percent). Slightly more Americans now believe that Russia tried to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election (66 percent, 61 percent in 2017).
  • When it comes to withdrawing from the INF, a slim majority of Americans oppose the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement (41 percent support, 54 percent oppose). Among Russians, a slim plurality support the Russian decision to withdraw from the INF (44 percent support, 40 percent oppose). However, the vast majority favor the two countries negotiating a new arms control agreement (87 percent Americans, 74 percent Russians).


For more findings, graphics, and methodology, download the full reports here.

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on data from a joint Chicago Council-Levada Analytical Center survey on Russian and American Attitudes conducted in February 2019.

The US survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs using their national online omnibus service, KnowledgePanel™, between February 22-24, 2019 among a weighted national sample of approximately 1,000 American adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±3 percentage points.

The Russia survey was conducted between February 14-20, 2019 by the Levada-Center (Levada Analytical Center) with face-to-face interviews conducted among a representative sample of 1,613 persons aged 18 years and older, living in eight federal districts of the Russian Federation. Inside each district, the sample is distributed among five strata of settlements proportionally to the number of population living in them, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error is ±3.4 percentage points.

The 2019 and 2017 Chicago Council-Levada Analytical Center Joint Surveys on Russian and American Attitudes are made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.