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.