In the EU and NATO but Close to Russia — Post-Crimea Attitudes in Bulgaria and Hungary

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Abstract

This article focuses on attitudes towards Russia in Bulgaria and Hungary — two EU and NATO countries with special relations to Russia — in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military intervention in support of separatists in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine in 2014 and onwards. We begin by putting the relations to Russia in a historical perspective. We then set out to account for support for Russia with the help of survey data from the Post-Crimea Barometer (2015) — a unique survey focusing on geopolitical orientation (East versus West) and attitudes towards Russia in Latvia, Hungary and Bulgaria in a post-Crimea setting. Latvia is a special case because of its large Russian minority population; we therefore confine our comparison to Bulgaria and Hungary. The findings suggest that long-term attachment to Russia is decisive in Bulgaria. In Hungary, long-term attachment to Russia is important, but not sufficient to account for post-Crimea attitudes towards Russia.

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