May 11, 2015

Americans and Germans differ on approach to Russia

Not since the end of the Cold War has Russia loomed so large in German-American relations, due in large part to recent developments in Ukraine. Germany’s geographic proximity and economic ties to Russia give Berlin and Washington different stakes in the current confrontation with Moscow.

Majority of Germans Prefer Strong Ties with U.S.According to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted in association with the Bertelsmann Foundation, a majority of Germans (57%) believe it is more important for Germany to have strong ties with the United States than with Russia. Just 15% prefer strong ties with Russia, and another 21% volunteer that it is best to have an equally close relationship with both.

However, the legacy of World War II lives on in public opinion: East and West Germans differ on how they view ties with the U.S. While 61% of Germans living in the West prefer a strong affiliation with America, just 44% of people living in the East agree. And while 23% of people in the East voice support for strong ties with Russia, only 12% of those in the West agree.

On the issue of Ukraine, and what to do about Russian activities in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine, when asked if it is more important to be tough with Russia or to have a strong economic relationship with Moscow, half of Germans voice the view it is more important to be tough. In spite of Germany’s long-standing economic and energy ties with Russia, only about a third (35%) say a strong economic relationship is more important. Notably, younger Germans (53%), ages 18 to 29, are much more supportive of standing up to Russia over Ukraine than are older Germans (36%), ages 65 and older.

Americans Want Harder Line with Russia; Germans DisagreeBut Americans are much more supportive of taking action against Russia than are Germans. More than half of Americans (54%) believe that U.S. policy is not tough enough on Moscow. And 59% of Americans say the European Union is not being strong enough.

At the same time, roughly six-in-ten Germans (62%) think the U.S. position with regard to Russia is too tough (27%) or about right (35%). Similarly, 62% of Germans believe that EU actions against Russia are too strong (18%) or about right (44%).

Older Americans (65%) are much more likely than younger ones (45%) to hold the view that the U.S. is not being tough enough on Russia. Republicans (69%) are also more critical than are Democrats (47%).

In Germany, supporters of the left-of-center Social Democratic Party (39%) are more likely than adherents of the right-of-center Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (23%) to voice the view that the U.S. is being too tough on Russia. And East Germans (27%) are more likely than West Germans (16%) to say that the EU is being too tough.

Topics: Global Balance of Power, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, Russia, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, World Economies

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center.

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2 Comments

  1. THEODORE MILLER1 year ago

    The closer you are to the action, the less likely you are to take a bellicose course of action. Makes sense to me. Unfortunately, the Russians don’t seem to agree.

    Reply
  2. undefined1 year ago

    Bravo.
    What else can I say… the Only question is: what kind Of “Russian propaganda” at all for a year told American officials? … if the majority of the population in the U.S. and Europe “zombified”?
    Because in reality:
    1) the Ukraine was forced overthrow of the President on 24 February 2014.
    2) the overthrow of President spent $ 5 billion of American taxpayers.
    3) the Overthrow of the President has divided the country in half and plunged into civil war, which began on the Maidan in Central Kiev.
    4) Terrorists and Russian occupants” were civilians who disagree with the “new power”.
    5) the Main victims among the civilian population are ethnic Russians, but “truthful” media blamed Putin, closing his eyes,… who is it, and how their kills.
    P. S. Here is my main witness

    youtube.com/watch?v=QeLu_yyz3tc

    Reply