Germans fear migrants much more than Putin

Despite two years of war
Germans fear migrants much more than Putin

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Although Russia is still waging war against Ukraine, concern about Moscow is decreasing – in Germany as well as in some other G7 countries. This is shown by a survey by the Munich Security Conference. Instead of a Russian attack, the Germans are now more afraid of something else.

Almost two years after the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the perception of Russia as a threat in the Western world has fallen again, according to a survey for the Munich Security Conference (MSK). This emerges from the Munich Security Index 2024, which was presented by the security conference in Berlin. Accordingly, “mass migration”, cyber attacks, global warming and Islamic extremism are increasingly perceived as risks again.

Representative citizens of the G7 states, the original BRICS countries with the exception of Russia (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) and Ukraine were surveyed for the index last fall. The perception of Russia as a risk factor fell in almost all countries. Only in Great Britain and Japan do citizens perceive Russia as the greatest security risk. Last year, this was the case in five G7 countries.

In last year’s survey, German citizens named Russia as the number one risk, but now only as their seventh greatest concern. Instead, the perception of migration and Islamic extremism as a risk increased significantly, just like in neighboring France. In Canada, Italy and Brazil, people are most concerned about extreme weather and forest fires. According to the report, cyber attacks are the top priority in China and the USA.

Prioritizing your own benefit brings negative dynamics

The report, published four days before the start of the security conference, warns of the decline in global cooperation within the framework of a rules-based order. Prioritizing one’s own advantages over the general benefits of global cooperation leads to a “lose-lose” dynamic in which it is only a matter of who loses less. The report cites the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East as examples, but also disputes over areas of influence, such as in the Pacific.

The geopolitical conflicts would mean that capital and trade could only flow along the borders of these conflicts. The fight against global warming also threatens to fail due to geopolitical conflicts, and technological progress is increasingly being exploited. According to the report, this limits progress itself and the resulting opportunities for prosperity and also prevents necessary global regulations, for example for artificial intelligence (AI).

Instead of striving to reform the rules-based order, the global community is currently moving in the opposite direction, write the authors of the report. This results in a difficult balancing act for the transatlantic allies and their like-minded partners: Given the global situation, they must invest in defense and deterrence and concentrate on strengthening their sphere of influence. At the same time, this should not result in a vicious circle in which global cooperation disappears in more and more areas, the report says.

The 60th Munich Security Conference will take place in the Bavarian capital from February 16th to 18th. Numerous heads of state and government from all over the world are expected at the meeting; according to media reports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also taking part.

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