Nearly all who are following the news support Crimea joining Russia
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Russians largely back their country's tough stance on Ukraine, which earned Russia more economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe this week. Nearly two-thirds of Russians surveyed before the latest round of sanctions believe Russia needs to have a "very strong position" in relations with its neighbor. One in five Russians still believe their country needs to have good relations with Ukraine by all means.
Russians' attitudes could reflect the stronger position they may feel their country is already in after Russia's seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March. Although the U.S. and other Western powers largely condemned the action, imposing sanctions and other penalties against specific individuals and businesses in Russia, nearly all Russians (95%) who are following the news about Crimea say they support Crimea joining Russia.
The earlier sanctions did little to dampen the average Russian's enthusiasm for the country's leadership, with President Vladimir Putin's popularity in Russia vaulting to its highest level in years, and record-level confidence in the country's military, the national government, and the honesty of elections. The previous sanctions also did not appear to affect Russians' views of their country's economy, with more Russians seeing their economy as getting better now than has been the case since 2008.
Unlike the previous sanctions, the latest round -- which is in response to Russia's continued backing of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine -- may affect entire sectors of the Russian economy. While more positive than in the past, Russians' economic outlook still remains relatively weak, and it may be the one area where the public's strong support of the policy on Ukraine may be vulnerable.
Oldest Russians Slightly More Likely to Favor Good Relations Than Younger Russians
Majorities in all segments of Russian society, regardless of gender, age, or education, almost uniformly back a strong position on Ukraine. Russians aged 60 and older -- who remember Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union for most of their lives -- are the most likely of any age group to support good relations with Ukraine by all means. However, less than one-third (31%) in this group wants good relations with Russia's neighbor.
Although relations between Russia and Ukraine are at a low point, most Russians are still open to some type of relationship between the two previous allies. While the majority of Russians would like their country to decide the terms of that relationship and take a strong position, only 4% of Russians believe their country should terminate all relations. Whether Russians change their minds after the latest round of sanctions may largely depend on how much these measures personally affect them and how the chief architects in Russians' new positive image of the country's leadership -- their state media -- report on the situation.
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Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 2,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted April 22-June 9, 2014, in Russia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2.7 percentage points at 95% confidence level. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.