RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The conflict in Georgia has raised the possibility that Russia could face international isolation. The Kremlin insists it's not worried or afraid of a new Cold War. And Russians are expressing views increasingly hostile to the U.S. NPR's Moscow correspondent Gregory Feifer reports.
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Unidentified Man #1: (Foreign language spoken)
GREGORY FEIFER: Since the start of Russia's conflict with Georgia, the Russian media has broadcast a mounting stream of anti-Western propaganda. One of the very few exceptions has been this radio station, Ekho Moskvy. But even listeners to a call-in show on this station say they're not concerned about Russia's growing split with the West.
Unidentified Man #2: (Foreign language spoken)
FEIFER: This listener said a new Cold War would make absolutely no difference to Russians. Most agreed that the West - which depends on Russia for its vast oil and gas supplies - has far more to lose. Russia's attack on Georgia has prompted a crisis in U.S.-Russian relations not seen since the height of the Cold War. The West has condemned Russia for invading and occupying an independent democracy, but Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told CNN on Thursday that U.S. forces inside Georgia probably provoked the hostilities.
Prime Minister VLADIMIR PUTIN (Russia): (Through translator) I suspect that someone in the United States specially created this conflict to complicate the situation and create an advantage for one of the U.S. presidential candidates.
FEIFER: Putin warned of very bad consequences and said Russia was not afraid of being kicked out of international organizations such as the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries. We don't want to fight anyone, he said. We only want to be respected.
According to the local Levada polling agency, 75 percent of Russians back such statements. On Moscow's main shopping street, architect Denise Evanoth(ph) says she believes Washington started a new Cold War.
Ms. DENISE EVANOTH (Architect): (Through translator) They're installing a missile defense system in Poland. They've set Ukraine, Georgia against Russia. They toppled the Soviet Union, and now they have a long-standing plan to split off neighboring territories and surround Russia.
FEIFER: Even inside a bastion of Americana culture - a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant within sight of the Kremlin - the mood was equally defiant. Lawyer Mariana Panyarska(ph) says Russia must show it's a strong, independent country.
Ms. MARIAN PANYARSKA (Lawyer): (Through translator) We finally showed that the United States can't do what it wants all over the world. We have our positions, and they have to be respected. It's just that the West didn't believe we'd be back on our feet standing up for our interests so soon.
FEIFER: Cold War rhetoric was steeped in the ideological differences between Marxism-Leninism and capitalist democracy. Today, Russians say there's no ideology. Instead, Buddies Dugan(ph) of the Levada polling agency says Russians see the United States as a direct threat to Russia's very existence.
Mr. BUDDIES DUGAN (Levada Polling Agency): (Through translator) People have been led to believe Russia can be strong only by opposing the world's biggest power, while believing their own country can do no wrong. Perhaps that's the only way the authorities can generate support from a population that's still mostly poor and very fragmented.
FEIFER: Back in T.G.I. Fridays, lawyer Gatadi Uvnaora(ph) says he sees nothing alarming about Russia's standoff with the West.
Mr. GATADI UVNAORA (Lawyer): (Foreign language spoken)
FEIFER: He says he's not concerned that Russia has stationed Black Sea warships off Georgia's coast after accusing the United States of a naval buildup there. Both sides, he says, are just testing each other's limits.
Gregory Feifer, NPR News, Moscow.
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