Increasing number of Finns see Russia as threat, support NATO membership

While about 60% of Finns consider Russia a military threat and 45% hold a negative opinion of the country. [EPA-EFE / MAURIZIO GAMBARINI]

While about 60% of Finns consider Russia a military threat and 45% hold a negative opinion of the country, support to join NATO has also seen a slight increase, a survey by The Business Finnish and Policy Forum (EVA) think tank, reveals.

Since EVA’s previous survey in 2012, negative opinions about Russia have grown by 26%.

With regards to Russia, more favourable attitudes (60%) are found among over 65-year-olds. Meanwhile, among those with an academic degree, only 21% think positively about Russia.

Among political parties, voters for the Finns Party, the Centre Party and the small liberal party, Movement Now are most favourable to Russia. Most critical are the Greens, followed by Left Alliance, the conservative National Coalition Party, and the Swedish People’s Party.

The think-tank says that Russia’s behaviour in eastern Ukraine, in Syria, and the treatment of Alexei Navalny are the main drivers of anti-Moscow sentiment.

The Finnish Business and Policy Forum have also surveyed opinions about possible NATO membership. Some 40% are against joining NATO, but support has increased by 4% to 26%. But some significant changes may be taking place inside the parties. A year ago, the majority of those voting for the Social Democrats, the Centre, the Greens and Left Alliance were against NATO membership. Today, only supporters of Left Alliance and Movement Now object to being part of NATO.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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