Over the course of the country's invasion of Ukraine, beliefs about who is a friend and who is a foe of Russia have consolidated among its population. There is one surprising exception, however - Ukraine itself. A survey among Russians shows that the country slid down in the ranking from the second biggest enemy of Russia in 2021 to its fifth biggest foe in 2023. While previously, 40 percent of Russian had named the country as an enemy, only 26 percent listed it most recently when asked what Russia's five biggest enemies were.
According to the reoccurring survey by the Levada Center, a Russian non-governmental organization, official Russian positions on its friends and enemies are generally echoed by its people. Especially allies of Ukraine are seen increasingly negative in Russia. The most disliked among them as of May 2023 were the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Poland. 72 percent of Russians currently consider the U.S. an enemy - up 8 percentage points from two years ago. Dislike of the latter three countries rose significantly faster, by between 21 and 32 percentage points - with the biggest increase hitting Russia's former ally Germany.
The opposite picture emerges concerning the country's biggest allies. Belarus, China and India gained between 18 and 20 percentage points in the ranking in two years, while Kazakhstan - having spoken out against the Ukraine war - lost some approval.
Yet, it isn't always a majority who shares these beliefs. With Belarus and the U.S., a large majority of respondents considers the countries among the top 5 of friends and enemies of Russia, respectively. Concerning the country's perceived as its second biggest friend and enemy, China and the United Kingdom, only small majorities of 58 percent and 51 percent could agree to place them among the countries major friends and foes.