Sunday

28th May 2017

Russia's image nosedives, as EU adds 11 names to blacklist

  • Putin's Russia - popular at home, becoming less popular everywhere else (Photo: Kelly)

A new survey shows that Russia’s image has taken a battering over the Ukraine crisis, as the EU added another 11 names to its blacklist.

The survey, published by US pollsters Pew Research Center on Wednesday (9 July), says 74 percent of people in Europe have an “unfavourbale view of Russia” today compared to 54 percent last year.

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Negative opinion in the US rose from 43 percent to 72 percent.

The increase was lower - between four to seven percent - in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Russia is still fairly popular in Africa, where just 31 percent of people voiced criticism, followed by Asia (41%), and Latin America (45%). But 68 percent held unfavourable views in the Middle East, despite the fact Russia has long been seen as a counter to US support for Israel in the region.

The research was carried out between 17 March and 5 June, involving 48,643 respondents in 44 countries.

Looking at Europe, the sharpest increase in Russia criticism was seen in Poland, the UK, Spain, Germany, and Italy.

The public sentiment is not always reflected in government policy, with Italy, Germany, and Spain taking the lead in opposing tougher EU sanctions.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine itself, opinion is divided by region.

Overall, some 60 percent of Ukrainians now see Russia in a negative light compared to just 11 percent in 2011 (the last time Pew studied Ukraine). But the figures break down as 83 percent anti-Russian feeling in west Ukraine, compared to 45 percent in the east, and 4 percent in Crimea.

The survey’s findings were matched in terms of people’s confidence in Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s personal handling of international affairs.

They were also matched in peoples’ views that Russia “lacks respect for personal freedoms” at home.

Pew found Putin has become more popular inside Russia, however - 83 percent said they see their country under his leadership in a positive light in 2013 and 92 percent today.

But another survey, published by Ukraine's Razumkov Center last week, makes unhappy reading for the Russian President. The Razumkov pollsters said 54 percent of Ukrainian people want their country to join Nato, with just 32 percent against.

The Pew findings came out the same day as EU countries decided to add 11 names to a blacklist which already contained 61 Russian nationals and pro-Russia Ukrainians involved in the insurgency in east Ukraine.

One EU diplomat told EUobserver that seven of the new names are Ukrainians, while the other four are dual Russian-Ukrainian citizens.

A second diplomat said the legal act to blacklist them is to be adopted on Friday, with the names to be published in the bloc's Official Journal on Saturday.

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The EU is considering whether to add some low-level names to the Russia blacklist, as France and Germany lead efforts on Ukraine peace talks.

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Most of the EU’s top arms exporters have imposed a quiet ban on sales to Russia, but Ukraine’s military embargo could have a bigger impact on the crisis.

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