NATO expansion deeply worries 44% of Russians, poll finds

Almost half of all Russians are concerned about the eastward expansion of NATO, according to a survey conducted March 27-28 throughout Russia by the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion. In all, 1,602 people were polled in 100 population centers distributed across 39 regions, territories and republics, the Center said. Some 44% of those polled said NATO's eastward expansion-it has added the membership of a number East European and Baltic countries--constitutes a genuine threat to Russian security. The opposite view was endorsed by 33% of respondents: 24% of them see no direct threat to Russia in expansion, and 9% said expansion makes Russia more secure.

Supporters of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and United Russia were least worried about the expansion: 41% and 38%, respectively, took the view that NATO expansion eastward either will have no effect on the security of Russia or will have a positive effect. Showing most concern were supporters of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (60%).

Other findings: 34% of those polled said it is largely in Russia's interest to cooperate with NATO. Only 15% of those polled believe that Russia should oppose NATO by forming its own defensive alliance, but only 7% of those polled favor Russia's joining NATO. Twenty-four percent of those polled believe Russia should join no military bloc. Respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 were slightly more amenable to Russia cooperating with NATO (48% said Russia should join NATO or cooperate with it). Conversely, only 30% of the age group older than 60 favors cooperation with NATO.

The margin of error in the results was 3.4%.

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