President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the White House on Friday, and likely to be high on the agenda is an issue that has been the subject of public opinion polls in both countries — what stance to take towards Russia in the Ukraine crisis.
Six-in-ten Germans say their country should stand together with the U.S. and the western allies in the face-off with Russia, according to the ARD-DeutschlandTREND poll conducted April 28-29. But the survey suggests there are some different currents at work in looking at sentiment in both countries.
The action most favored by Germans (69%) in response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is economic and financial support for Ukraine, a measure that both governments have backed.
Germany has big economic interests in Russia, and while solid majorities support standing with the allies and giving economic aid to Ukraine, Germans are more skittish about the imposition of economic sanctions against Russia; half of those surveyed said they were in favor. (That represents a 12-point increase since March.)
In the U.S., 53% favored increasing economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia while 36% opposed, according to a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll conducted April 23-27.
One action strongly opposed in both countries is sending military aid to Ukraine, which conceded this week that the central government had lost control of the pro-Russia eastern part of the country. Only 18% of Germans in the ARD survey backed such an option. In our U.S. survey, just 30% of Americans favored sending arms and military supplies to the Ukraine government while 62% were opposed.
Levels of concern about the tensions with Russia centered on its Ukraine actions differ. In the U.S., only 31% of Americans said the events in Russia and Ukraine were very important to U.S. interests, according to our survey. The ARD survey asked a different question about whether Germans were worried the Ukraine situation could turn into another Cold War. About seven-in-ten expressed such a concern, with 20% saying they were very worried and 52% describing themselves as “rather worried.”
The ARD-DeutschlandTREND poll was translated from German to English by Steve Schwarzer, visiting research methodologist at the Pew Research Center.