"Exposed to the world's contempt". Illustration from the "Puck" satirical magazine
, dedicated to the anti-Jewish pogrom in Kishenev (April 1903), June 17, 1903
Anti-Russian sentiment, commonly referred to as Russophobia, describes prejudice, fear or hatred against Russia, the Russians, and Russian culture. Russophilia, by contrast, refers to admiration and fondness of Russia and the Russians.
In the past, Russophobia has included state-sponsored mistreatment of the Russians, mainly in the rest of Europe, especially by Germany. Indeed Nazi Germany deemed Russians, and other Slavs, an inferior race and sub-human. As a result, millions of Russian civilians and POWs were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, with tens of millions more planned to be killed as part of Generalplan Ost.
In the present, a variety of mass culture clichés and negative stereotypes about Russians exist. Some individuals may have prejudice or hatred against Russians due to history, racism, propaganda, or ingrained stereotypes and hatred.
In October 2004, the International Gallup Organization announced that according to its poll, anti-Russia sentiment remained fairly strong throughout Europe and the West in general. It found that Russia was the least popular G-8 country globally. The percentage of population with a "very negative" or "fairly negative" perception of Russia was 73% in Kosovo[a], 62% in Finland, 57% in Norway, 42% in the Czech Republic and Switzerland, 37% in Germany, 32% in Denmark and Poland, and 23% in Estonia. Overall, the percentage of respondents with a positive view of Russia was only 31%.
According to a 2014 survey by Pew Research Center, attitudes towards Russia in most countries worsened considerably during Russia's involvement in the 2014 crisis in Ukraine. From 2013 to 2014, the median negative attitudes in Europe rose from 54% to 75%, and from 43% to 72% in the United States. Negative attitudes also rose compared to 2013 throughout the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
There is the question of whether or not negative attitudes towards Russia and frequent criticism of the Russian government in western media contributes to negative attitudes towards Russian people and culture. In a Guardian article, British academic Piers Robinson claims that "Indeed western governments frequently engage in strategies of manipulation through deception involving exaggeration, omission, and misdirection". In a 2012 survey, the percentage of Russian immigrants in the EU that indicated that they had experienced racially motivated hate crimes was 5%, which is less than the average of 10% reported by several groups of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the EU. 17% of Russian immigrants in the EU said that they had been victims of crimes the last 12 months, for example, theft, attacks, frightening threats or harassment, as compared to an average of 24% among several groups of immigrants and ethnic minorities.
According to a 2019 study, the very term "Russophobia" has been used infrequently before 2014 and primarily to describe discrimination against ethnic Russians in former Soviet states. A significant increase in use of the term by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation starts from 2014, and is linked to Putin returning to presidency in 2012 and bringing in a new definition of "Russianness" and new approach towards "the West".
On 19 October 1797 the French Directory received a document from a Polish general, Michał Sokolnicki, entitled "Aperçu sur la Russie". This became known as the so-called "Testament of Peter the Great" and was first published in October 1812, during the Napoleonic wars, in Charles Louis-Lesur's much-read Des progrès de la puissance russe: this was at the behest of Napoleon I, who ordered a series of articles to be published showing that "Europe is inevitably in the process of becoming booty for Russia". Subsequent to the Napoleonic wars, propaganda against Russia was continued by Napoleon's former confessor, Dominique Georges-Frédéric de Pradt, who in a series of books portrayed Russia as a power-grasping "barbaric" power hungry to conquer Europe. With reference to Russia's new constitutional laws in 1811 the Savoyard philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote the now famous statement: "Every nation gets the government it deserves" ("Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite").
In the 1815-1840 period, British commentators began complaining about the extreme conservatism of Russia and its efforts to stop or reverse reforms. Fears grew that Russia had plans to cut off communications between Britain and India and was looking to conquer Afghanistan to pursue that goal. This led to the British policies known as the "Great Game" to stop Russian expansion in Central Asia. However, historians with access to the Russian archives have concluded that Russia had no plans involving India, as the Russians repeatedly stated.
In 1867, Fyodor Tyutchev, a Russian poet, diplomat and member of His Imperial Majesty's Own Chancellery, introduced the actual term of "russophobia" in a letter to his daughter Anna Aksakova on 20 September 1867, where he applied it to a number of pro-Western Russian liberals who, pretending that they were merely following their liberal principles, developed a negative attitude towards their own country and always stood on a pro-Western and anti-Russian position, regardless of any changes in the Russian society and having a blind eye on any violations of these principles in the West, "violations in the sphere of justice, morality, and even civilization". He put the emphasis on the irrationality of this sentiment. Tyuchev saw Western anti-Russian sentiment as the result of misunderstanding caused by civilizational differences between East and West. Being an adherent of Pan-Slavism, he believed that the historical mission of Slavic peoples was to be united in a Pan-Slavic and Orthodox Christian Russian Empire to preserve their Slavic identity and avoid cultural assimilation; in his lyrics Poland, a Slavic yet Catholic country, was poetically referred to as Judas among the Slavs. The term returned into political dictionaries of the Soviet Union only in the middle 1930s. Further works by Russian academics, such as Igor Shafarevich's Russophobia or the treaty from the 1980s attributed the spread of russophobia to Zionists.
In 1843 the Marquis de Custine published his hugely successful 1800-page, four-volume travelogue La Russie en 1839. Custine's scathing narrative reran what were by now clichés which presented Russia as a place where "the veneer of European civilization was too thin to be credible". Such was its huge success that several official and pirated editions quickly followed, as well as condensed versions and translations in German, Dutch, and English. By 1846 approximately 200 thousand copies had been sold.
The influential British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote controversially on Russia, that the oppression in the country, rooted in the Red Revolution, perhaps was "the fruit of some beastliness in the Russian nature", also attributing "cruelty and stupidity" to tyranny in both the "Old Russia" (tsarist) and "New Russia" (Soviet).
In the 1930s and 1940s, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party viewed the Soviet Union as populated by Slavs ruled by "Jewish Bolshevik" masters.
Hitler stated in Mein Kampf his belief that the Russian state was the work of German elements in the country and not of the Slavs:
Here, Fate itself seems desirous of giving us a sign. By handing Russia to Bolshevism, it robbed the Russian nation of that intelligentsia which previously brought about and guaranteed its existence as a state. For the organization of a Russian state formation was not the result of the political abilities of the Slavs in Russia, but only an excellent example of the state-forming efficacity of the German element in an inferior race.
A secret Nazi plan, the Generalplan Ost called for the enslavement, expulsion or extermination of most Slavic peoples in Europe. Approximately 2.8 million Soviet POWs died of starvation, mistreatment, or executions in just eight months of 1941–42.
"Need, hunger, lack of comfort have been the Russians' lot for centuries. No false compassion, as their stomachs are perfectly extendible. Don't try to impose the German standards and to change their style of life. Their only wish is to be ruled by the Germans. [...] Help yourselves, and may God help you!"
— "12 precepts for the German officer in the East", 1941
On July 13, 1941, three weeks after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler told the group of Waffen SS men:
This is an ideological battle and a struggle of races. Here in this struggle stands National Socialism: an ideology based on the value of our Germanic, Nordic blood. ... On the other side stands a population of 180 million, a mixture of races, whose very names are unpronounceable, and whose physique is such that one can shoot them down without pity and compassion. These animals, that torture and ill-treat every prisoner from our side, every wounded man that they come across and do not treat them the way decent soldiers would, you will see for yourself. These people have been welded by the Jews into one religion, one ideology, that is called Bolshevism... When you, my men, fight over there in the East, you are carrying on the same struggle, against the same sub-humanity, the same inferior races, that at one time appeared under the name of Huns, another time— 1000 years ago at the time of King Henry and Otto I— under the name of Magyars, another time under the name of Tartars, and still another time under the name of Genghis Khan and the Mongols. Today they appear as Russians under the political banner of Bolshevism.
Heinrich Himmler's speech at Posen on October 4, 1943:
What happens to a Russian, to a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise, it is of no interest to me. Whether 10,000 Russian females fall from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interest me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished. We shall never be rough and heartless when it is not necessary, that is clear. We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude towards animals, will also assume a decent attitude towards these human animals.
The editors of the journal Kritika argue that an extreme interpretation of George F. Kennan's “X article” was exploited by American politicians in the Cold War to advance aggressive “containment” policy towards Russia (in spite of Kennan later denouncing this interpretation). Russophobic stereotypes of an illiberal tradition were also favored by Cold War historiographers, even as scholars of early Russia debunked such essentialist notions.
In 2001, a Chechen man, Goychaev, was sentenced to death for murder, rape and robbery. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. According to information from prosecutors, Goychaev's gang targeted Russians and murdered 10 in Chervlyonnaya (Shelkovsky District, Republic of Chechnya) between 1997 and 1999. Goyachev was charged with genocide, however the court did not find him guilty of genocide because genocide was understood to be a crime against the peace and safety of humanity.
Russian NTV channel journalist Yelena Masyuk, who was captured by Chechens, said in 2009 that she had not seen any signs of ethnic cleansing in Chechnya that had been rumoured.
Journalist Fatima Tlisova released an article in 2009 discussing the frequent occurrences of Russian Orthodox crosses being sawed off buildings and thrown off mountains in Circassia, due to the cross being associated with the people who initiated the mass expulsions of Circassians.
As a polemic device
The Kremlin and its supporters are sometimes criticised for using allegations of "Russophobia" as a form of propaganda to counter criticism of government policy.
In 2006, poet and essayist Lev Rubinstein wrote that similarly to the term "fascism", the term "Russophobia" has become a political sticker slapped onto people who disagree with words or actions of people or organizations who position themselves as "Russian ones" in the ideological, rather than ethnic or geographical sense.
Anti-Putin protest in Yerevan
, 2 December 2013
After Nicholas II intensified russification policies and did not act following massacres by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians, anti-Russian sentiment among Armenian nationalist groups rose. After the Russian government confiscated Armenian Church lands in 1903, this led to attacks on Russian authorities and Armenians who cooperated with them by Armenians mobilised by the Dashnak party.
In July 1988, during the Karabakh movement, the killing of an Armenian man and the injury of tens of others by the Soviet army in a violent clash at Zvartnots Airport near Yerevan sparked anti-Russian and anti-Soviet demonstrations. In 2005, relations between Armenia and Russia were strained after the massacre of an Armenian family of 7 in Gyumri by a Russian serviceman stationed at the Russian base there.
The 1990 Black January massacre prior to Azerbaijani independence and Russia's complicated role in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia increased the negative perception of Russia. Under Abulfaz Elchibey's presidency in 1992–93, relations between Russia and Azerbaijan were damaged due to his anti-Russian policies, however under Ilham Aliyev, relations instead improved.
According to a 2012 poll, 35% of Georgians perceive Russia as Georgia's biggest enemy, while the percentage was significantly higher in 2011, at 51%. In a February 2013 poll, 63% of Georgians said Russia is Georgia's biggest political and economic threat as opposed to 35% of those who looked at Russia as the most important partner for Georgia. The main reason behind this is due to events since the 1990s, when Russia supported the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, causing the Abkhaz–Georgian conflict, Georgian–Ossetian conflict and later war with Russia in 2008. It was also followed by Georgian sympathy to the Chechens during the Chechen–Russian conflict of the 1990s.
Rest of Europe
According to veteran German author, journalist and Russia-correspondent Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, there is deep disapproval of everything Russian in Estonia. A poll conducted by Gallup International suggested that 34% Estonians have a positive attitude towards Russia, but it is supposed that survey results were likely impacted by a large ethnic Russian minority in the country. However, in a 2012 poll only 3% of the Russian minority in Estonia reported that they had experienced a racially motivated hate crime (as compared to an average of 10% among ethnic minorities and immigrants in EU).
According to Estonian philosopher Jaan Kaplinski, the birth of anti-Russian sentiment in Estonia dates back to 1940, as there was little or none during the czarist and first independence period, when anti-German sentiment predominated. Kaplinski states the imposition of Soviet rule under Joseph Stalin in 1940 and subsequent actions by Soviet authorities led to the replacement of anti-German sentiment with anti-Russian sentiment within just one year, and characterized it as "one of the greatest achievements of the Soviet authorities". Kaplinski supposes that anti-Russian sentiment could disappear as quickly as anti-German sentiment did in 1940, however he believes the prevailing sentiment in Estonia is sustained by Estonia's politicians who employ "the use of anti-Russian sentiments in political combat," together with the "tendentious attitude of the [Estonian] media." Kaplinski says that a "rigid East-West attitude is to be found to some degree in Estonia when it comes to Russia, in the form that everything good comes from the West and everything bad from the East"; this attitude, in Kaplinski's view, "probably does not date back further than 1940 and presumably originates from Nazi propaganda."
Ever since Latvia regained its independence in 1991 various Russian officials, journalists, academics and pro-Russian activists have criticised Latvia for its Latvian language law and Latvian nationality law and repeatedly accused it of "ethnic discrimination against Russians", "anti-Russian sentiment" and "Russophobia". In 1993 Boris Yeltsin, President of Russian Federation and Andrei Kozyrev, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, declared that Latvia is preparing for an ethnic cleansing. However, no Russians have ever been killed or even wounded for political, nationalistic or racist reasons in Latvia ever since it regained its independence. In 2019 co-chairman of the Latvian Russian Union and former MEP Tatjana Ždanoka likened the situation of Russians and Russian speakers and their alleged persecution in Latvia to Jews before the World War II.
In 2004, research conducted by the Baltic Institute of Social Sciences titled "Ethnic tolerance and integration of the Latvian society" found that Latvian respondents on average rated their relations with Russians 7.8 out of 10, whereas non-Latvian respondents rated their relationship with Latvians 8.4 out of 10. Both groups believed that the ties between them were satisfactory, had not changed in the last five years and were to either remain the same or improve in the next five years. Respondents did mention some conflicts on an ethnic basis, but all of them were classified as psycholinguistic such as verbal confrontations. 66% of non-Russian respondents would also support their son or daughter marrying an ethnic Russian. In a 2012 poll, only 2% of the Russian minority in Latvia reported that they had experienced a 'racially' motivated hate crime (as compared to an average of 10% among immigrants and minorities in EU).
On the other hand, results of a yearly poll carried out by the research agency "SKDS" showed that the population of Latvia was more split on its attitude towards the Russian Federation. In 2008 47% percent of respondents had a positive view of Russia, while 33% had a negative one, but the rest (20%) found it hard to define their opinion. It reached a high in 2010 when 64% percent of respondents felt positive towards Russia, in comparison with the 25 percent that felt negative. In 2015, following the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, however, it dropped to the lowest level since 2008 and for the first time, the people with a negative attitude towards Russia (46%) surpassed people with a positive attitude (41%). In 2017 the respondents having a positive view of Russia slightly increased and reached 47%, but the respondents having a negative view of Russia decreased to 38%. The data wasn't differentiated between the respondent ethnicities, so it has to be noted that between 2008 and 2017, ethnic Russians made up more than a quarter of the population of Latvia.
According to The Moscow Times, Latvia's fears of Russia are rooted in history, including conflicting views on whether Latvia and other Baltic States were occupied by the USSR or joined it voluntary, as well as the 1940–1941 June and 1949 March deportations that followed and most recently the annexation of Crimea that fueled a fear that Latvia could also be annexed by Russia. While Russian-American journalist and broadcaster Vladimir Posner also believed the fact that many Russians in the Latvian SSR did not learn Latvian also contributed to accumulation of an "anti-Russian sentiment".
On a political level, Russians in Latvia have sometimes been targeted by anti-Russian rhetoric from some of the more radical members of both the mainstream and radical right parties in Latvia. In November 2010 correspondence from 2009 between Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis and Latvian American doctor and member of the Civic Union Aivars Slucis was released by journalist Lato Lapsa. In one of the letters titled "Do Latvians Surrender?" Slucis complained of the current situation in Latvia and being unable to return and work in Latvia, because he "would not be able to treat Russians in the same way as Latvians". Kristovskis responded with "I agree with your opinion and evaluation", but warned against hysterical responses, cautioning party members to avoid discussions counterproductive to the party's political goals. After the leak the Civic Union ousted Slucis from the party for views “unacceptable to the party” and returned his financial contributions, while the opposition parties Harmony Centre and For a Good Latvia initiated an unsuccessful vote of no confidence against Kristovskis.
Due to historical experiences, there is a fear prevailed in Lithuania that Russia has never stopped wanting to consolidate power over the Baltics, including fears of Russian plans for an eventual annexation of Lithuania as was seen in Crimea. There are also concerns over Russia's increasing military deployment, such as in the Russian region of Kaliningrad, an exclave of Russia bordering Lithuania.
Central and Eastern Europe
Ever since the independence of Moldova, Russia has been repeatedly accused by various local politicians and elected officials of meddling in Moldovan politics, notably from Andrian Candu, a Moldovan senator. Russia's involvement with pro-Russian separatists in Transnistria further strained the relations between Russia and Moldova, and Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip demanded Russia to quit the region.
In 2018, the Parliament of Moldova “unanimously” adopted a declaration condemning what it called Russian attacks on national informational security and meddling in internal politics.
In 2004, the leader of Svoboda Oleh Tyahnybok urged his party to fight "the Moscow-Jewish mafia" ruling Ukraine. For these remarks Tyahnybok was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction in July 2004. The former coordinator of Right Sector in West Ukraine, Oleksandr Muzychko talked about fighting "communists, Jews and Russians for as long as blood flows in my veins."
In May 2009, a poll held by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in Ukraine said that 96% of respondents were positive about Russians as an ethnic group, 93% respected the Russian Federation and 76% respected the Russian establishment.
Desecration of the flags of Russia and Poland by the UNA-UNSO
nationalists in Lviv
, Ukraine, 1997
In October 2010, statistics by the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine said that positive attitudes towards Russians have been decreasing since 1994. In response to a question gauging tolerance of Russians, 15% of Western Ukrainians responded positively. In Central Ukraine, 30% responded positively (from 60% in 1994); 60% responded positively in Southern Ukraine (from 70% in 1994); and 64% responded positively in Eastern Ukraine (from 75% in 1994). Furthermore, 6-7% of Western Ukrainians would banish Russians entirely from Ukraine, and 7-8% in Central Ukraine responded similarly. This level of sentiment was not found in Southern or Eastern Ukraine.
The right-wing political party "Svoboda", has invoked radical anti-Russian rhetoric and has electoral support enough to garner majority support in local councils, as seen in the Ternopil regional council in Western Ukraine. Analysts explained Svoboda's victory in Eastern Galicia during the 2010 Ukrainian local elections as a result of the policies of the Azarov Government who were seen as too pro-Russian by the voters of "Svoboda". According to Andreas Umland, Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Svoboda's increasing exposure in the Ukrainian media has contributed to these successes. According to British academic Taras Kuzio the presidency of Viktor Yanukovich (2010–2014) fabricated this exposure in order to discredit the opposition.
After Ukraine regained its independence, only a small minority of nationalists expressed strong anti-Russian views; the majority hoped to have good relations with Russia. In 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea, the attitude to Russia changed sharply. In April 2017, a poll by Sociological group "RATING" found that 57% of respondents expressed a "very cold" or "cold" attitude toward Russia while 17% expressed a "very warm" or "warm" attitude.
A caricature of a Russian traditional matryoshka doll
as a negative symbol of communism; Prague
, Czech Republic.
Russia remains continuously among the most negatively perceived countries among Czechs in polls conducted since 1991, and just 26% of Czechs responded that they had a positive opinion about Russia in November 2016.
In 2005, The New York Times reported after the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that "relations between the nations are as bad as they have been since the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989." Jakub Boratyński, the director of international programs at the independent Polish think tank Stefan Batory Foundation, said in 2005 that anti-Russian feelings have substantially decreased since Poland joined the EU and NATO, and that Poles feel more secure than before, but he also admitted that many people in Poland still look suspiciously at Russian foreign-policy moves and are afraid Russia is seeking to "recreate an empire in a different form." According to Boris Makarenko, deputy director of the Moscow-based think tank Center for Political Technologies, much of the modern anti-Russian feelings in Poland is caused by grievances of the past. One contentious issue is the Katyn massacre in 1940 as well as the Stalinist-era ethnic-cleansing operations including the deportation of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Poles, even though the Russian government has officially acknowledged and apologized for the atrocity.
According to a 2013 BBC World Service poll, 19% of Poles viewed Russia's influence positively, with 49% expressing a negative view.
Hungary's relations with Russia are shadowed by the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 which was crushed with the help of Russian troops as well the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 which was brutally crushed by the Red Army and was followed by the mass arrest and imprisonment of Hungarians. The current government of Viktor Orbán is seen as friendlier toward Russia. According to a 2019 survey by Pew Research, 3% of Hungarian respondents had a favourable opinion of Russia, 32% had a somewhat favourable opinion, 31% had a somewhat unfavourable opinion and 16% had a very unfavourable opinion.
Anti-Russian sentiment dates back to the conflict between the Russian and Ottoman empires in the 18th and early 19th centuries and the ceding of part of the Moldavian principality to Russia by the Ottoman Empire in 1812 after its de facto annexation, and to the annexations during World War II and after by the Soviet Union of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia and the policies of ethnic cleansing, Russification and deportations that have taken place in those territories against ethnic Romanians. Following WWII, Romania, a former ally of Nazi Germany, was occupied by Soviet forces. Soviet dominance over the Romanian economy was manifested through the so-called Sovroms, exacting a tremendous economic toll ostensibly as war-time reparations.
The emergence of anti-Russian sentiment in the Danubian Principalities, the precursors to unified Romania which became independent of the Ottoman Empire with the 1829 Treaty of Adrianople concluding the 1828-1829 Russo-Turkish War, arose from the post-1829 relationship of the Danubian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia to Russia, and was caused by mutually economic and political grievances of two influential classes that were often odds also with each other. As per the 1829 treaty, Russia was named the protector of the two principalities, allowed to occupy them, and also drafted a quasi-constitution known as the Organic Regulations which formed a powerful assembly of 800 boyars (the local landowning economic elite) nominally under the authority of the less nominal prince, the document crafted with strong support from the boyars. The boyars, a "reactionary oligarchy" as described by Misha Glenny, stopped short any hint of liberal reform, and the growing urban elite began to associate Russia with the slow progress of reform and the obstacles they faced in building an industrial base. On the other hand, the boyars themselves began to sour on Russia during the 1830s and 1840s due to their economic conflict of interest with Russia. After the Ottomans withdrew from the three forts along the Danube basin, the boyars exploited the highly fertile land to drastically increase Romanian wheat production, such that eventually future Romania consisting of Wallachia unified with Moldavia would become the fourth-largest wheat producer in the world. Whereas before 1829 Wallachian and Moldavian wheat had been limited to Ottoman markets, Russia increasingly felt threatened by growing competition in its jurisdiction that it feared could drive down the price of Russian wheat. Accordingly, Russia exploited its role as protector of the Principalities to let the Danube silt up, sabotaging the possible market competitor. As a result of this as well as "Russian foot-dragging on the economy", the boyars too became increasingly resentful of Russian domination. The rapid erosion of public relations with Russia led to a revolution in 1848, in which the newly emerging Romanian intellectual and political class sought the help of the Ottomans, their old hegemon, to drive out Russian influence—although, after pressure applied by Russia, the Russian and Ottoman armies joined forces to squash the movement.
Western and Northern Europe
Norway's diplomatic and cultural ties with the West have complicated continuing relations with Russia. A 2017 poll of Norwegians found that 58% believe that Vladimir Putin and Russia pose a security threat.
Russian officials escalated the tensions. A Russian deputy foreign minister stated in Oslo that Russia views the October 2018 Trident Juncture NATO military exercises in Norway to be "anti-Russian" in nature. Russian expansion in the arctic has contributed to increasing mutual distrust between Russia and Norway. Norway's perceptions of Russian militarism and regional antagonism, as well as Norway's hosting of the US Marine Corps in the country, have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Norway and Russia.
In Finland, anti-Russian sentiment has been studied since the 1970s. The history of anti-Russian sentiment has two main theories. One of them claims that Finns and Russians have been archenemies throughout history. The position is considered to have been dominated at least the 1700s since the days of the Greater Wrath. This view largely assumes that through the centuries, "Russia is a violent slayer and Finland is an innocent, virginal victim".
The Finnish Civil War in 1918 between the Reds and the Whites—won by the Whites—left behind a popular wave of anti-Russian and anti-Communist feelings in Finland.
According to polls in 2004, 62% of Finnish citizens had a negative view of Russia. In a 2012 poll, 12% of Russian immigrants in Finland reported that they had experienced a racially motivated hate crime (as compared to an average of 10% of immigrants in the EU).
In the mid 18th century Voltaire gave French intellectuals a positive image, portraying Russia as an opportunity society, in which an all-powerful leaders such as Peter the Great could create a rational and enlightened society by decree. On the other hand, equally influential French enlightenment writers especially Denis Diderot portrayed Russia in dark colours, emphasizing the lack of an enlightenment tradition or a middle class, and a propensity toward harsh dictatorship.
Relations between France and Russia oscillated greatly. Napoleon made Russia his top ally, and then his greatest enemy, and squandered his great army on a failed invasion in 1812. Anti-Russian sentiment became strong. The intellectual mood after 1815 feared Russia's expansionism, its military strength, and its premodern Asiatic (or "Tatar") perspective that hated the Enlightenment roots of Western European culture. The mood created support for the Crimean War as Britain and France defeated Russia, 1854–1856. Fyodor Dostoyevsky noted in A Writer’s Diary (1873-1876):
Europeans do not trust appearances: “Grattez le russe et vous verrez le tartare”, they say (scratch a Russian and you’ll find a Tatar). That may be true, but this is what occurred to me: do the majority of Russians, in their dealings with Europe, join the extreme left because they are Tatars and have the savage’s love of destruction, or are they, perhaps, moved by other reasons?"
According to a 2017 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 36% of French people have a favorable view of Russia, with 62% expressing an unfavorable view. In return numerous French scholars and politics argue that France had a longstanding positive opinion about Russia and regret that France from the late 2000s tends to follow American positions against Russia blindly.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party regarded Slavic peoples (especially Poles and East Slavs) as non-Aryan Untermenschen (subhumans). As early as 1925, Hitler suggested in Mein Kampf that the German people needed Lebensraum ("living space") to achieve German expansion eastwards (Drang nach Osten) at the expense of the inferior Slavs. Hitler believed that "the organization of a Russian state formation was not the result of the political abilities of the Slavs in Russia, but only a wonderful example of the state-forming efficacity of the German element in an inferior race."
After the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler expressed his plans for the Slavs:
As for the ridiculous hundred million Slavs, we will mold the best of them as we see fit, and we will isolate the rest of them in their pig-styes; and anyone who talks about cherishing the local inhabitants and civilizing them, goes straight off into a concentration camp!
Plans to eliminate Russians and other Slavs from Soviet territory to allow German settlement included starvation. American historian Timothy D. Snyder maintains that there were 4.2 million victims of the German Hunger Plan in the Soviet Union, "largely Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians," including 3.1 million Soviet POWs and 1.0 million civilian deaths in the Siege of Leningrad. According to Snyder, Hitler intended eventually to exterminate up to 45 million Slavs by planned famine as part of Generalplan Ost.
Influenced by the guidelines, in a directive sent out to the troops under his command, General Erich Hoepner of the 4th Panzer Army stated:
The war against Russia is an important chapter in the German nation's struggle for existence. It is the old battle of the Germanic against the Slavic people, of the defense of European culture against Muscovite-Asiatic inundation and the repulse of Jewish Bolshevism. The objective of this battle must be the demolition of present-day Russia and must, therefore, be conducted with unprecedented severity. Every military action must be guided in planning and execution by an iron resolution to exterminate the enemy remorselessly and totally. In particular, no adherents of the contemporary Russian Bolshevik system are to be spared.
"The Russian menace", an English cartoon from 1877 showing Russia as a monstrous octopus devouring neighboring lands, especially the Ottoman Empire
Not until early 19th century Russia and Russians were traditionally perceived in the United Kingdom with unflattering stereotypes and ignorance; the 1782 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica Russia was described as “a very large and powerful kingdom of Europe” populated with brutal, vicious, drunken savages, with a despotic government. Still, the onset of a significant anti-Russian sentiment, after nearly 300 years of friendly British-Russian relations, is associated with 19th century conflicts, notably the Crimean War and the Anglo-Afghan wars, with the latter seen as representing Russia's territorial ambitions regarding the British Empire in the British India. This competition for spheres of influence and colonies (see, e.g. The Great Game and Berlin Congress) fueled anti-Russian sentiment in Britain. British propaganda at the time took up the theme of Russians as uncultured Asiatic barbarians.
Rudyard Kipling, especially popular in Russia for his The Ballad of East and West poem and The Adventures of Mowgli animation (1967-1971) that was referenced by Putin in 2011, has also applied the term 'Oriental', in its derogatory meaning, to the Russian people. In The Man Who Was (1890, never translated to Russian), he wrote: "Let it be clearly understood that the Russian is a delightful person till he tucks in his shirt. As an Oriental he is charming. It is only when he insists upon being treated as the most easterly of western peoples instead of the most westerly of easterns that he becomes a racial anomaly extremely difficult to handle. The host never knows which side of his nature is going to turn up next".
The American professor Jimmie E. Cain Jr has stated that these views were then exported to other parts of the world and were reflected in the literature of late the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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. (August 2018)
Up until the establishment of the Soviet Union, the United States had a cordial relationship with the Russian Empire. With the collapse of the Tsarist government, the relationship has turned into a hostile one. During the Cold War years, there was frequent confusion and conflation of terms "Russians" and "Communists"/"Soviets"; in 1973, a group of Russian immigrants in the US founded the Congress of Russian Americans with the purpose of drawing a clear distinction between Russian national identity and Soviet ideology, and preventing the formation of anti-Russian sentiment on the basis of Western anti-communism. Members of the Congress see the conflation itself as Russophobic, believing "Russians were the first and foremost victim of international Communism".
Polling has charted that at the end of the Cold War, American views of Russia warmed considerably, with 62% of Americans expressing a positive view of Russia in 1989 and 66% at the turn of the century, as opposed 29% and 27% retaining negative views in those years. Although Russia recovered from brief spikes in negative views in 1999, 2003 and 2008, in 2013 the formerly majority positive view of Russia among American respondents critically declined and this perception was replaced by a majority negative view of 60% by 2014. This time, instead of recovery, Russia's public image experienced progressively more severe deterioration. By 2019, a record 73% of Americans had a negative opinion of Russia as a country, and formerly dominant positive opinions had been cut from 66% down to 24%. In 2019, the share of Americans considering Russia to be a "critical" threat to national security reached a majority of 52% for the first time. Whereas in 2006 only 1% of Americans listed Russia as "America's worst enemy" by 2019 32% of Americans, including a plurality of 44% of Democrats, shared this view, with a partisan split having emerged in 2017. The sharper distaste among the Democrat population stands in contrast to the prior history of American public opinion on Russia, as Republicans were formerly more likely to view Russia as a greater threat.
According to a 2013 Poll, 59% of Americans had a negative view of Russia, 23% had a favorable opinion, and 18% were uncertain. According to a survey by Pew Research Center, negative attitudes towards Russia in the United States rose from 43% to 72% from 2013 to 2014.
Recent events such as the Anti-Magnitsky bill, the Boston Marathon bombing Russia's actions following the Ukrainian crisis, the Syrian Civil War, the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, the mistreatment of LGBT people in Russia following the passage of a 2013 anti-LGBT propaganda law in the country, the seizure and destruction of banned Western food imports in Russia starting in August, 2015, and the alleged collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia are many examples of events which have been deemed to have caused a rising negative impression about Russia in the United States.
In May 2017, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on NBC's Meet The Press that Russians were "almost genetically driven" to act deviously. Freelance journalist Michael Sainato criticized the remark as xenophobic. In June 2017 Clapper said that "[t]he Russians are not our friends", because it is in their "genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to the United States and western democracies."
On July 2, 2020, the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans, released Fellow Traveler, an ad saying in Russian with English subtitles that "Comrade Trump" had been "chosen" by Vladimir Putin and had "accepted the help of Mother Russia." The ad featured communist imagery such as the hammer and sickle, as well as photographs of Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and Soviet leaders from Stalin to Mikhail Gorbachev. Eliot Borenstein, Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at NYU, has criticized the Lincoln Project's "Russophobic" ad, saying: "How would we feel about a two-minute video filled with Stars of David, men in Orthodox garb, sinister snapshots of Bibi, and soldiers in tanks, all to the tune of “Hava Nagila”? If that doesn't make you uncomfortable, I'm not sure what to tell you."
Russians and Russian Americans are usually portrayed as ruthless agents, brutal mobsters and villains in Hollywood movies. In a 2014 news story, Fox News reported, "Russians may also be unimpressed with Hollywood's apparent negative stereotyping of Russians in movies. "The Avengers" featured a ruthless former KGB agent, "Iron Man 2" centers on a rogue Russian scientist with a vendetta, and action thriller "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" saw Kenneth Branagh play an archetypal Russian bad guy, just to name a few."
In June 2020, Russian American professor Nina L. Khrushcheva wrote: "Normally, I would not side with the Kremlin. But I cannot help wondering whether the Russophobia found in some segments of America's political class and media has become pathological."
The history of early anti-Russian sentiment in New Zealand was analyzed in Glynn Barratt's book Russophobia in New Zealand, 1838-1908, expanded to cover the period up to 1939 in an article by Tony Wilson.
According to Wilson, negative attitude towards the Russian Empire had no roots in the country itself but was fueled by the attitude of the British Empire, at a time when New Zealand was still a British colony. It was aggravated by lack of information about Russia and contacts with it due to the mutual remoteness. Various wars involving the Russian Empire fueled the "Russian scare". The new negative attitude was brought by Jewish immigration after Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. That immigration was halted as a combined result of Russophobia and anti-Semitism. As of 1916, there were 1242 settlers of Russian origin in the country, including 169 Jews. During World War I anti-Russian sentiment was temporarily supplanted by anti-German sentiment for evident reasons; however, soon after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the fear of Marxism and Bolshevism revived Russophobia in the form of "Red Scare". Notably, local Russians had no issues with Russophobia. By late 1920s pragmatism moderated anti-Russian sentiment in official circles, especially during the Great Depression. Influential visitors to the Soviet Union, such as George Bernard Shaw, provided a sympathetic view of what they experienced.
Asia and Middle East
Rudolph P. Matthee (Munroe Chaired Professor of History at the University of Delaware) noted in his book The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver, 1600-1730, dealing with the Safavid period (1501–1736), that the Iranians "had long despised Russians for their uncouthness". In the first half of the 19th century, Russia annexed large parts of Iranian territory in the Caucasus; With the Treaty of Gulistan (1813) and Treaty of Turkmenchay (1828), Iran was forced to cede what is present-day Azerbaijan, Armenia, eastern Georgia and southern Dagestan to Russia. This fuelled anti-Russian sentiment which led to an angry mob storming the Russian embassy in Tehran and killing everyone in 1829. Among those killed in the massacre was the newly appointed Russian ambassador to Iran, Aleksander Griboyedov, a celebrated playwright. Griboyedov had previously played an active role in negotiating the terms of the treaty of 1828. Soviet involvement in the Azerbaijani and Kurdish separatist movements also fueled negative attitudes.
In 2009, negative attitudes to Russia among the Iranian opposition was also observed due to Russian support of the Iranian government.
According to the Jamestown Foundation, while previously not known for being anti-Russian, Kazakhstan since independence has grown increasingly hostile to both Russia and China. Russian commentator Yaroslav Razumov alleges that "anti-Russian articles are a staple of the Kazakh media". Recently, Kazakh nationalists have criticized people who prefer speaking in Russian than Kazakh despite being one of the two official languages in the country. In 2014, ethnic Kazakhs were enraged with the statement of Russian president Vladimir Putin that "Kazakhs never had any statehood" before independence.
Conflicts between Russia and China started with the Tsardom of Russia during the Sino-Russian border conflicts. By 1689, conflict with China, then under Qing dynasty, had ended until the Opium Wars launched by Britain in the 19th century. At this point, with the Qing dynasty plagued by its own civil wars, Russia expanded and asserted their hegemony by conquering Outer Manchuria. Russia would continue to sponsor various groups, both pro and anti-Chinese, helping to destabilize China with the Dungan rebellion and Russian occupation of Ili. Towards the collapse of the Qing dynasty, Russia invaded Manchuria and was among a major participant that crushed the Boxer Rebellion against European powers.
With the collapse of the Tsarist Empire in Russia, the Soviet Union was founded. Nonetheless, tensions between the USSR and China remained high. The Soviet Union waged the 1929 war against China, which ended in Soviet victory. The Soviet Union would continue following Imperial Russia's expansion of influence by sponsoring a number of various militia groups destabilizing China, especially in Xinjiang which resulted in the Kumul Rebellion, Soviet invasion of Xinjiang and followed by the Islamic rebellion and Ili Rebellion in 1937 and 1944. The Soviet invasion and occupation of Manchuria in 1945 following Japanese control increased anti-Russian and anti-Soviet sentiment as a result of war crimes committed by Soviet troops, including rape and looting.
Nowadays however, anti-Russian sentiment in China has greatly downgraded, due to perceived common anti-Western sentiment among Russian and Chinese nationalists.
According to a 2013 survey 73% of Turks look at Russia unfavorably against 16% with favorable views.
Historically, Russia and Turkey fought several wars and had caused great devastation for each nation. During the old Tsardom of Russia, the Ottomans often raided and attacked Russian villagers. With the transformation into Russian Empire, Russia started to expand and clashed heavily with the Turks; which Russia often won more than lost, and reduced the Ottoman Empire heavily. The series of wars had manifested the ideas among the Turks that Russia wanted to turn Turkey into a vassal state, leading to a high level of Russophobia in Turkey. In the 20th century, anti-Russian sentiment in Turkey was so great that the Russians refused to allow a Turkish military attache to accompany their armies. After the World War I, both Ottoman and Russian Empires collapsed, and two nations went on plagued by their civil wars; during that time Soviet Russia (who would later become Soviet Union) supported Turkish Independence Movement led by Mustafa Kemal, leading to a warmer relations between two states, as newly established Turkish Republic maintained a formal tie with the Soviet Union. But their warm relations didn't last long; after the World War II, the Bosphorus crisis occurred at 1946 due to Joseph Stalin's demand for a complete Soviet control of the straits led to resurgence of Russophobia in Turkey.
Anti-Russian sentiment started to increase again since 2011, following the event of the Syrian Civil War. Russia supports the Government of Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports the Free Syrian Army and had many times announced their intentions to overthrow Assad, once again strained the relations. Relations between two further went downhill after Russian jet shootdown by Turkish jet, flaring that Russia wanted to invade Turkey over Assad's demand; and different interests in Syria. Turkish media have promoted Russophobic news about Russian ambitions in Syria, and this has been the turning point of remaining poor relations although two nations have tried to re-approach their differences. Turkish military operations in Syria against Russia and Assad-backed forces also damage the relations deeply.
Most Japanese interaction with Russian individuals – besides in major cities such as Tokyo – happens with seamen and fishermen of the Russian fishing fleet, therefore Japanese people tend to carry the stereotypes associated with sailors over to Russians. According to a 2012 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 72% of Japanese people view Russia unfavorably, compared with 22% who viewed it favorably, making Japan the most anti-Russian country surveyed.
In May and June 2006, Russian media cited discrimination against Russian companies as one possible reason why the contemplated merger between the Luxembourg-based steelmaker Arcelor and Russia's Severstal did not finalize. According to the Russian daily Izvestiya, those opposing the merger "exploited the 'Russian threat' myth during negotiations with shareholders and, apparently, found common ground with the Europeans", while Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma observed that "recent events show that someone does not want to allow us to enter their markets." On 27 July 2006, The New York Times quoted the analysts as saying that many Western investors still think that anything to do with Russia is "a little bit doubtful and dubious" while others look at Russia in "comic book terms, as mysterious and mafia-run."
View of Russia in Western media
Some Russian and Western commentators express concern about a far too negative coverage of Russia in Western media (some Russians even describe this as a "war of information"). In April 2007, David Johnson, founder of the Johnson's Russia List, said in interview to the Moscow News: "I am sympathetic to the view that these days Putin and Russia are perhaps getting too dark a portrayal in most Western media. Or at least that critical views need to be supplemented with other kinds of information and analysis. An openness to different views is still warranted."
In February 2007, the Russian creativity agency E-generator put together a "rating of Russophobia" of Western media, using for the research articles concerning a single theme—Russia's chairmanship of G8, translated into Russian by InoSmi.Ru. The score was composed for each edition, negative values granted for negative assessments of Russia, and positive values representing positive ones. The top in the rating were Newsday (−43, U.S.), Financial Times (−34, Great Britain), The Wall Street Journal (−34, U.S.), Le Monde (−30, France), while editions on the opposite side of the rating were Toronto Star (+27, Canada) and "The Conservative Voice" (+26, U.S.).
California-based international relations scholar Andrei Tsygankov has remarked that anti-Russian political rhetoric coming from Washington circles has received wide echo in American mainstream media, asserting that "Russophobia's revival is indicative of the fear shared by some U.S. and European politicians that their grand plans to control the world's most precious resources and geostrategic sites may not succeed if Russia's economic and political recovery continues."
In practice, anti-Russian political rhetoric usually puts emphasis on highlighting policies and practices of the Russian government that are criticised internally - corruption, abuse of law, censorship, violence and intervention in Ukraine. Western criticism in this aspect goes in line with Russian independent anti-government media such as (TV Rain, Novaya Gazeta, Ekho Moskvy, The Moscow Times) and opposition human rights activists (Memorial). In defence of this rhetoric, some sources critical of the Russian government claim that it is Russian state-owned media and administration who attempt to discredit the "neutral" criticism by generalizing it into indiscriminate accusations of the whole Russian population - or Russophobia. Some have argued, however, that the Western media doesn't make enough distinction between Putin's government and Russia and the Russians, thus effectively vilifying the whole nation.
Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept wrote in February 2017 that the "East Coast newsmagazines" in the United States are "feeding Democrats the often xenophobic, hysterical Russophobia for which they have a seemingly insatiable craving." Yuliya Komska in The Washington Post took note of a Russiagate-awareness media project featuring Morgan Freeman and James Clapper and wrote that its "hawkish tenor stokes blanket Russophobia that is as questionable as the Russian state media's all-out anti-Americanism."
Russian responses to outside anti-Russian criticism has intensified the growth of contemporary Russian nationalist ideology. Sociologist Anatoly Khazanov states that there's a national-patriotic movement which believes that there's a "clash of civilizations, a global struggle between the materialistic, individualistic, consumerist, cosmopolitan, corrupt, and decadent West led by the United States and the idealist, collectivist, morally and spiritually superior Eurasia led by Russia." In their view, the United States want to break up Russia and turn it into a source of raw materials. The West being accused of Russophobia is a major part of their belief. In January 2018, during the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Moscow's Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Russian President Vladimir Putin linked Russophobia to anti-Semitism.
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