Support in Russia for Syria strikes slips, but 59 pct still in favour

Still image taken from aerial footage released by Russia's Defence Ministry on February 11, 2016, shows airstrikes, carried out by the country's air force and hitting what the Defence Ministry says were Islamic State oil storage facilities, at an unknown location in Syria (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 Levada 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 Levada poll which found 55 percent of Russians broadly supportive.

However both surveys suggest support has fallen since the start of the bombing campaign when Levada 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.

ISIS 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.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46