On March 6, Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency published an article by its top political columnist Victoria Nikiforova. Last March, the European Union sanctioned Nikiforova as “a central figure” in Russian government propaganda. “She has denied Ukraine's right to exist, as well as the ability of the Ukrainian people to decide for itself,” the EU said in a statement.
Headlined “Americans Now Want Putin to become their President,” Nikiforova’s RIA Novosti piece alleged that support for Vladimir Putin among Americans has skyrocketed.
"The explosion of American love for the Russian president was provoked, paradoxically, by his extremely tough stance towards Russia's enemies."
That is false.
Nikiforova based her “analysis” on a single publication in the American Thinker, a U.S. conservative outlet, the content of which she also mistranslated.
In fact, the proportion of Americans supporting the Russian president has been steadily declining for two decades, according to numerous public opinion polls.
The most recent survey by the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based think tank, showed a “20-year low” support for Putin:
“Across 18 nations, a median of 90% say they do not have confidence in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs, and nearly eight-in-ten (78%) express no confidence at all in Putin.”
In the U.S., Putin rated worse than the international median: 92% of Americans surveyed by Pew, said they are not confident in Putin — same as Japan, but lower than many European countries, such as Poland (97%) and Sweden (95%).
Pew has been tracking attitudes toward the Russian president over the past 20 years. In 2003, a Pew poll found that 41% of Americans had confidence in Putin “to do the right thing in world affairs,” while 47% did not. That marked the peak of sympathy for Putin in American society, as found in Pew’s polling.
Approval of Putin plummeted in the U.S. after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. In spring 2012, according to Pew, 28% of Americans had confidence in Putin, and that dropped to 16% in spring 2014.
Polls conducted by Gallup, a Washington-based analytical and consulting company, also found that the annexation of Crimea had a negative impact on Putin's image in the U.S. In 2013, 19% of those polled by Gallup had a favorable view of Putin, with that number dropping to 13% in 2015.
Russia's February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine turned Putin into one of the world leaders most hated by the American public. A poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal in March 2022, shortly after Russia launched its invasion, found that only 4% of the Americans surveyed expressed a favorable view of Putin, while 90% were unfavorable, and 6% were undecided.
A Quinnipiac University national poll of American adults conducted in April 2022 found that more than “8 in 10 Americans (82%)” think the Russian president is a “war criminal.” Ten percent thought he was not. Among those polled, 71% said they believed Putin ordered Russian troops to kill civilians in Ukraine, while 14% thought that he had not.
"With thousands dead in Ukraine and the grim belief that the barbarity has just begun, Americans label Putin a killer who directed his troops to do the unthinkable, cut down non-combatants," said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.
In polling conducted among Americans in July 2022 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, only 4% expressed a favorable view of Putin.
In a September 2022 poll conducted among Americans by YouGov, a London-based international market research and data analytics firm, only 8% of the respondents said they considered Russia "friendly" or an "ally."
Only 4% of YouGov’s respondents said they had a very favorable opinion of Putin, while 8% had a somewhat favorable one. The highest support for Putin was in the 18-to-29 demographic, among whom 19% approved of Putin and 64% disapproved. The highest disapproval for Putin was in the 65+ demographic, among whom 5% approved of the Russian president and 89% disapproved.
In a poll conducted among Americans in October 2022 by Redfield and Wilton, a London-based global polling and strategic consulting firm, 60% of the respondents said they thought seeking to "remove Vladimir Putin from power would be a reasonable objective." Only 18% thought such a step would "go too far," while 22% were undecided.
Domestically, Putin's approval rating spiraled to its highest level in five years immediately after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a poll by the independent Levada Center showed in March 2022.