- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2018

It inspired another national round of hand-wringing over malign Russia influence and intentions in the U.S., but the recent Helsinki summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin has actually boosted America’s image in Mr. Putin’s Russia.

The Moscow Times reported Thursday that a new survey from independent pollster Levada found that the number of Russians with “positive” feelings toward the U.S. is now larger than those with a “negative” attitude, 42 percent to 40 percent.

It’s the first time since 2014 that positive respondents outnumbered those with a negative impression of the U.S.

While Mr. Trump’s performance at the July 16 summit and subsequent press conference proved highly polarizing in the U.S., many in Russia had a much more favorable reaction to the July 16 meeting, seeing it as a possible sign of better bilateral relations and a reduction in diplomatic tensions, according to the pollster.

Coverage on the largely state-controlled press was also highly favorable.

“The Russian population is tired of the policy of confrontation with the West, which has been going on for several years and has resulted in the decline of people’s incomes,” Levada said in an analysis accompanying the poll.

Levada conducted the polls over six days starting July 19 — three days after the summit was held. Some 1,600 participants in 52 regions of the country were polled. Ironically, the popular view of the U.S. in Russia is rising at a time when Mr. Putin’s once sky-high popularity has taken a sharp hit over a controversial government plan to raise the official retirement age.

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