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“What do you think: are the Russians coming?”

19 Sep 2020 - 01:00
Bron: Pxhere
Polarised views of Russian threat in the Netherlands

When Russia is in the news it is usually for negative reasons, for example due to reports of internal repression, military provocations, disinformation campaigns or cyberattacks on Western targets. Dutch-Russian relations deteriorated particularly after 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the east of Ukraine, the downing of MH-17 and undue interference in our internal affairs.

It is no wonder, then, that opinion polls in recent years have shown Dutch public opinion on Russia turning predominantly negative with many people in the Netherlands seeing Russia as a threat. The Clingendael Foreign Affairs Barometer asked over 23,000 people in the Netherlands to what extent Russia posed a threat to Europe and what they thought about our treaty obligations as NATO members and about Dutch imports of Russian gas.

More than 35% of all participants agree with the statement “Russia poses a threat to Europe’s security”, while 38% have a neutral view or do not know and 27% do not perceive Russia as a threat. There is a clear correlation between the extent to which Russia is perceived as a threat and three factors: political preferences, sociocultural attitudes and general concern about geopolitical tensions.

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