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Poll shows fewer Russians consider Ukraine, US as enemies

President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation hold a working lunch | July 16, 2018 (Shealah Craighead/White House)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Fewer Russians consider Ukraine and the United States as enemy states as they shift their attention toward growing domestic problems, according to a new poll.

The number of Russians who consider the United States a hostile country dropped to 67 percent from 78 percent a year ago, a May survey conducted by the independent Levada Center showed on June 14.

Those who consider Ukraine a hostile country dropped from 49 percent to 40 percent.

Russia’s relations with Ukraine and the United States deteriorated after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and then began supporting separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

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The United States later imposed sanctions on Russia to punish it for its actions.

Those sanctions — along with a drop in oil prices — have hurt Russia’s economic growth over the past five years as private investment stalls.

Several protests have taken place in Russia in recent months over bread-and-butter issues like wages and pensions.

Russians’ negative attitude toward the United States and Ukraine dropped because citizens are less interested in geopolitics and more concerned about prices and wages, political analyst Aleksei Makarkin told Vedomosti.

Some Russians may also be hopeful that a new leader in Ukraine will lead to better relations between the two nations, Levada Center Director Lev Gudkov told the paper.

Ukraine in April elected actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy to a five-year term as president.