Deterring an “aggressive Russia” with an increased military presence in Europe is the stated goal of NATO since 2014, but public opinion in Europe doesn’t seem to buy the plan. According to the Pew Research Center’s Spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey, people in Europe don’t see Russia as a major threat and don’t see hard power as a viable solution not only for tensions with Moscow, but even for international terrorism, a threat they consider the biggest for Europe.
Poland is the only one of the 10 countries surveyed that sees tensions with Russia as a major problem. There, 71 percent of people agreed with the statement, a far greater percentage compared to other nations surveyed. Throughout Europe, 34 percent see Russia as a major threat, the poll has shown.
Interestingly, Poles are divided over whether their government should take a tougher stance on Russia or favor stronger economic ties with it. People in most countries surveyed agreed with the latter option. Sweden was the only country that definitely favors a confrontational approach, with 71 percent approving it compared to 26 percent seeking reconciliation. Germans, Italians, Hungarians and overwhelmingly Greeks want to trade, rather than quarrel with Moscow. The average is 43 percent for reconciliation vs 48 percent for confrontation with Moscow.