March 20, 2014

Even before Ukraine crisis, views of Putin had grown more negative in U.S., Europe

Views of Vladimir Putin Ukraine Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during a signing ceremony at the Grand Kremlin Palace. (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin’s third term as Russia’s president had already been marked by clear signs of his intention to reassert his country as a world power before his move to annex Crimea. But whatever impact the latest events have on international opinion about Putin, views about him in the U.S. and allied countries had already turned negative compared with when he was first elected to office in 2000.

A Gallup poll conducted Feb. 6-9 found that 63% of Americans had an unfavorable view of Putin, the highest ever in its polling. That followed a year of U.S.-Russian tensions that included sharp differences over Syria, Russia’s decision to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden and Putin’s op-ed piece in the New York Times taking issue with President Obama’s evocation of American exceptionalism.U.S., Europe have increasingly dim view of Vladimir Putin

More than a decade ago, the polling showed a different picture of Russia’s leader. In 2002, 41% of Americans had favorable views of Putin and just 18% had a negative one in Gallup’s polling.

Gallup’s results on Putin have been echoed in polls since January by CNN and the Washington Post/ABC News and continued a negative trend reflected in polling by the Pew Research Center.

Asked how much confidence they had in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs, 54% of Americans answered “not too much” or “none at all” in a 2012 survey, an increase of seven points compared with 2003. In 2012, just 28% said they had “a lot” or “some” confidence in the Russian leader.

But the public opinion changes were even more marked among the U.S.’s allies in Europe. In Britain, those saying they had little or no confidence in Putin to do the right thing jumped to 70% in 2012 from 36% in 2003; in France, it increased to 88% from 52%; and, in Germany, to 77% from 24%.

In Poland, where its neighbor’s intentions have been a concern since Soviet times, 74% of the public said they had little or no confidence in Putin to do the right thing, similar to findings in 2008 and 2007.


Topics: Global Balance of Power, Russia

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a senior editor at Pew Research Center.


  1. Donnegan3 years ago

    Couldn’t agree more. Obama is naïve. He has trusted his diplomatic skills and instincts far too much. Putin recognizes this and has taken full advantage. If you notice all the thug states
    (Iran, North Korea, Syria, Russia, China) are on the move because they see weakness and no resolve from the free world’s leader.

    When they hear lead from behind they know it’s time to grab.
    What’s Obama gonna do next ban those rich Russians from South Beach? What a meany.

    1. Gerry Gentile3 years ago

      Donngan raises a very good point about Obama–The man failed to understand that you can’t negotiate with some people. In his behalf I will say that part of what is informing his attitudes was the intransigence of the previous administration–intransigence that cost America much of its good-will with other nations. Unfortunately, the president failed to realize after a while in office that he wasn’t going to be able to work with nations like Russia, North Korea, and Iran. The result is that he hasn’t been able to change course with those unworthies.