Sheepshead Bay’s Former Soviet Community Optimistic Over US-Russia Relations, Silent Over Controversies

russian woman on coney island
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As controversy swirls over U.S. intelligence reports of Russia meddling in last year’s presidential election, there are some who wonder what will become of the often-strained relationship between Russia and the United States. This is especially so following the election of Donald J. Trump as the next U.S. president.

Trump has often tweeted a positive outlook towards Russian president, Vladimir Putin, which has caused concern for some American voters. These voters believe Putin is too authoritarian for America’s tastes.

But in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach, Brooklyn’s enclave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, there appears to be little worries. This area saw strong support for Trump during the election.

Although many were unwilling to discuss Trump and his relationship with Russia, those that did expressed optimism.

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“I have a positive outlook,” said a middle-aged man named Pavel, as he shopped at an outdoor food market on Brighton Beach Avenue. He emigrated 27 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine. “It will improve. Hopefully, it will be OK. Trump is a smart guy.”

“Of course, everything will be much better,” said Uzbek-born Monya, as he walked with his wife, Mila, on the boardwalk.

The few that spoke to BKLYNER expressed hope to see the U.S. sanctions against Russia, which were put in place following the conflict in Crimea, to be done away with. Others, such as Pavel, figured Trump and Putin would work together over gas and oil.

“It should be priority number one,” said Dina about U.S-Russia relations. She emigrated from Ukraine 42 years ago. “They’re supposed to work together. It is for our kids to have a better future.”

When the subject of Trump’s recent tweets over building nuclear weapons with Russia came up, or even the accusation that Russia meddled in this year’s election, those who were interviewed went silent or claimed they didn’t know much about the issues.

But a couple did voice an opinion.

“He talks a lot,” Georgian-native, Gwen, shrugged over Trump tweeting about a nuclear arms race.

“Yeah, he’s a bad orator,” said her friend, Maia, also from Georgia. “He just talks.”

“If it’s true,” said an anonymous man near NetCost on Gravesend Neck Road about the hacking into the DNC’s emails. “It’s too late, nothing can be done.”

“Everything is fine,” said a man named Michael as he backed away.

However, there were some willing to express their less-than-optimistic viewpoints on some issues.

Dina was not thrilled about Trump’s tweets. “I’m against that. We don’t need any nuclear things.”

A man named Ruslan, originally from Western Ukraine, now living in Midwood, seemed uneasy about the future of U.S.-Russia relations.

“It will probably be worse,” he said. “I’m in doubt.” He also said it looked as if Russia did meddle in the election.

What will become of the often tense relationship between the US and Russia remains to be seen. Many, like Pavel, have much hope for brighter future between the two countries.

“They’ll never agree on everything,” he said. “But hopefully they’ll find consensus.”

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Megan McGibney

A native New Yorker, Megan McGibney enjoys such topics as education, the arts and business. A 2008 graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, she is also an adjunct lecturer at CUNY. You can reach out to her at or @MeganMcGibney.


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