Putin Gains Record Support Among Russians Over Syria, Poll Shows

  • Approval rating rises to 89.9 percent, polling company says
  • President to speak on `war and peace' Thursday, Kremlin says

In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, on Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea.

Photograph: Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public approval rating has reached a record 89.9 percent since he ordered his military to begin air strikes in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, according to a state-run polling center.

QuickTake Syria’s Civil War

Support for Putin hit the new peak in an Oct. 17-18 poll of 1,600 people conducted in 46 regions of Russia, an increase of 3.3 percentage points from a similar survey a week earlier, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, known as VTsIOM, said on its website Thursday. The margin of error was no greater than 3.5 percentage points.

“Against the background of the successful anti-terrorist operation in Syria, Vladimir Putin’s job approval rating has reached an historic high,” with a quarter of respondents citing the military campaign as the main reason for their support, according to VTsIOM. The president’s previous record-high rating was 89.1 percent reached in June, it said.

Putin will speak on “war and peace” at a conference in Russia’s Sochi on Thursday, according to the Kremlin, two days after hosting a surprise visit by Assad to Moscow, his first official foreign trip since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011. Russia began bombing Islamic State and other groups opposed to Assad in Syria on Sept. 30, its largest military campaign in decades outside the former Soviet Union.

The U.S. and its allies condemned Russia’s air strikes, saying Assad’s removal is critical to ending the war and defeating Islamic State militants who control large parts of Syria. Putin accused some states of having “oatmeal in their heads” last week for failing to understand that Russia’s campaign seeks to defeat terrorism. More than 250,000 people have died since the Syrian conflict began and millions have fled their homes, filling refugee camps in neighboring states and triggering a migration crisis in Europe.