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 of Russians still back the bombing of civilians. In fact, 59% of fellow Stalinists favor Putin killing Syrian civilians, which began on Sept. 30, compared to 27 percent of civil Russians who were opposed.
The survey was done by the independent Nevada Center. 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. Many economists predict that while Putin plays Caesar in Syria, the Russian economy is about to collapse.
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.
Reuters contributed to this article.