Russian gov promises new weapons while approval ratings slide

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend United Russia political party annual convention in Moscow, Russia December 8, 2018. A new poll shows approval ratings for Putin and Medvedev have dropped over the past year. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
Forty-five percent of Russians believe their country is moving in the wrong direction, a new opinion poll by independent Levada Centre tells.

Levada has made similar opinion polls since 1999 and not since 2006 have so many said the country is on the wrong path. 42 percent believe “things are going in the right direction” while 13 percent thinks it’s difficult to answer the question, Levada’s annual overview shows (in Russian).

President Putin’s approval ratings are also dropping, from 80 percent in 2018 to 64 percent in late January this year. Dmitry Medvedev’s popularity is now down to 33 percent, which is an all-time low for him in the position of Prime Minister.

Russians are increasingly concerned about their government’s performances. Here from a cold winter-day in Murmansk. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The share of Russians who blame the Russian government for things going wrong has increased by 10 percent since last year. 61 percent disapprove the work of the government, the poll indicates.

The poll also shows a growing number of people blame Putin and Medvedev for falling household incomes, increased retirement age and higher costs for food and living.

The rise in the retirement age, as well as higher costs for food and living, are hurting Medvedev’s and Putin’s approval ratings, the poll shows. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Funding weapons research

A challenge in times of domestic economic trouble for ordinary people, is how to find new funds for new weapons as tensions with the US and Europe are rising.

Medvedev on Sunday promised to provide more money for new weapons. The statement comes in response to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF treaty) and response steps announced by Putin on Saturday.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Vladimir Putin said Russia would do the same as the US: “They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same,” Putin said according to the transcripts posted by Kremlin.

Putin said new missiles would be deployed. “I agree with the Defense Ministry’s proposal to create a land-based version of the Kalibr launchers and work on a new project to develop a land-based hypersonic intermediate-range missile.”

Putin, however, underlined that new weapon systems should be developed within existing budget allocations to the Defense Ministry.

Sergey Shoigu said his ministry would propose adjustments to the 2019 budget in order not to exceed existing budget limits.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s defence minister says military upgrades part of plan to strengthen Arctic sovereignty, CBC News

Finland: Finnish Defence Minister tells party leaders shrinking fighter fleet would be “irresponsible”, Yle News

Norway: NATO’s Arctic dilemma: Two visions of the Arctic collide as NATO and Russia flex muscles, Eye on the Arctic special report

Russia: Russia’s new Arctic naval base built in 6 months, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Faced with Trump’s wavering support for NATO, Nordic nations stick together, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. experts call for ‘vigilance’ on Russian military buildup in Arctic, Alaska Public Media

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Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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