Support in Russia for Syria strikes slips, but 59 percent still in favor

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 15, 2016 5:10 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Public support in Russia for the country's air strikes in Syria has slipped since the Kremlin launched its air campaign more than four months ago, a poll showed on Monday, but a comfortable majority still back the bombing.

The survey, by the independent Nevada Center, showed that 59 percent of Russians backed a continuation of Moscow's air campaign in Syria, which began on Sept. 30, compared to 27 percent who were opposed.

Approval levels were slightly higher than a Nov. 15 Nevada poll which found 55 percent of Russians broadly supportive.

However both surveys suggest support has fallen since the start of the bombing campaign when Nevada found that 72 percent of Russians were broadly supportive of the strikes when asked at the start of October.

That may reflect fears, expressed in earlier surveys, that Russia could get sucked into a protracted Afghanistan-style conflict and follows the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt in October, an episode described as a terrorist act by the Kremlin in which 224 people were killed.

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the plane bombing, saying it was revenge for Russia's Syria intervention.

Monday's survey also found Russians were not following events in Syria as closely as they were at the end of last year.

Pollsters say people are more preoccupied with Russia's economic crisis, which has prompted the steepest fall in real incomes since President Vladimir Putin came to power 15 years ago.

Nevada said its results were based on interviews it had conducted with 1,600 adults across Russia from Jan. 22-25. It said the margin of error did not exceed 3.4 percent.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by)