CNN Poll: Most see Russia as a threat to U.S.
March 14th, 2014
01:01 PM ET
7 months ago

CNN Poll: Most see Russia as a threat to U.S.

Washington (CNN) - As the crisis in the Ukraine continues, a new national poll indicates that for the first time in more than a decade, more than half of Americans see Russia as a serious threat to the U.S.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Friday also indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin's unfavorable rating among Americans has soared over the past month. And the poll indicates that the vast majority of the public says Moscow's actions in neighboring Ukraine break international law, and half of those questioned say a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia is likely.

Read full CNN/ORC International survey results here.

According to the poll, 69% of Americans say they see Russia as threat to the U.S.

"That's a 25-percentage point increase since 2012 and represents the highest number on that question since the break-up of the Soviet Union," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Thirty-one percent now say they don't see Russia as a threat, down from 53% two years ago. The poll indicates that Americans place Russia in the same ballpark as North Korea (71%) and Iran (70%) when it comes to being seen as a threat to the U.S.

Only 11% of those questioned say they have a positive view of Putin, with 68% saying they see him in a negative way.

"The numbers are pretty clear on the Russian president. Americans really don't like Vladimir Putin, whose unfavorable rating has jumped 14 points since early February," Holland added.

No let up in crisis

The poll's release comes as some 8,500 Russian troops staged snap military exercises close to the border with Ukraine. It also comes just two days before the pro-Russian government in Ukraine's autonomous region of Crimean has scheduled a referendum in which residents of the peninsula will vote whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia or to choose effective independence. Ukraine's interim government in Kiev, as well as U.S. and European leaders, have warned that the vote is illegitimate.

Russia has said that it has the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians from "fascists" and nationalists. It denies that its forces are militarily involved in Crimea, despite evidence to the contrary. Crimea is an ethnic Russian-majority peninsula in the country's southeast where local officials have declared their allegiance to Russia and armed men have blockaded Ukrainian military sites.

The U.S. Senate is weighing legislation that could impose economic penalties on Russians involved in the intervention in Crimea. The measure would represent some of the toughest sanctions on Moscow since the end of the Cold War.

A new Cold War?

The poll indicates that more than seven in ten believe that there's no justification for Russia's actions in Ukraine and more than eight in ten say Russia has violated international law.

Four in ten say they worry about the possibility of nuclear war with Russia and nearly half believe that a new Cold War is likely in the next few years.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from Friday through Sunday, with 801 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • CNN/ORC International poll • CNN/ORC poll • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Rocky Patrick

    Does anybody recall how we laughed at Mitt Romney when he said Russia was our biggest potential threat? Now he can take a bow.

    Just another reason America made a big mistake in 2012 presidential election.

    March 14, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Mark

    And what of the International Space Station? Right now only Russia has the means to send people to and from the facility. What if they decide they will no longer allow foreigners on their space crafts? Americans, who spent the most money building the station, would have no way to get there. (It was extremely dumb to retire the space shuttles, and this is one of the reasons.)

    March 14, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Russia needs bread.

    March 14, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Sam

    ...no.

    March 14, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. jkprstn

    So Romney was right. Again. But he's wealthy and white so he couldn't be President.

    March 14, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. mannycl

    And Mitt Romney was right.

    March 14, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Not Again

    Why we are at odds with Russia is beyond me. I feel we have more in common with them than some of our other so called "friends" is other parts of the world. Going back to the days of an arms race with Russia just seems enormously stupid and pointless at this point.

    March 14, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Nomad

    Silly Russian's. Only the US can invade countries and call it "legal".

    March 14, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Freedomliker

    How about quoting Barack in the Romney debate? That was a year and a half ago. This community organizer is going to get us all killed one of these days because he is in way over his head as leader of the free world.

    March 14, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Jesse Franklin

    Feelings can be very misleading. One must always ask what is the real truth behind such topic as this. Feelings led to the Iraq war and when raw emotions helps one to make decisions there is a hidden dangers when real facts and data aren't at the forefront.

    And in today's America a many things are a threat based on feelings, emotions and perceptions: Not realistic knowledge. America has become a nation of fearing minded, fear mongering people who feels threaten by just about everything.

    March 14, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. James

    Don't you too find it ironic that in the very same year that it was discovered Americans are being spied on by their own government, they suspect Russia as the biggest threat?

    March 14, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. veryoldman

    Russian is now a much bigger threat than China. China is more interested in economic development, Putin wants to reestablish the "glory" of the old Soviet and he has no regard of his people's live.

    March 14, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Tim

    In the presidential debates there was a question about the biggest geopolitical threat to the U.S. Obama said al quaida and Romney said Russia. Obama laughed and 'made fun' of Romney in his response. Obama 'hit the reset button' on russia and let them off the hook on a lot a things, now look at Putin. Appeasement does not work.

    March 14, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. J Lora

    Since the cold war, Russia has always being a threat to the U.S. The cold war never ended it was just sugar coat it to calm people.

    March 14, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. citizenUSA

    I see Russia as a threat to anyone who'll oppose them. If not the U. S. then England, Australia, etc. You think China, (ultimately), would allow Russia to rival them?

    March 14, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Greenspam

    The average American is still stuck in the cold war mentality... The greatest threats to USA are:
    1) Security – Mexico. When Mexico loses its drug war (Not even if anymore, it's when), our next door neighbor will be a drug lord controlled haven
    2) Economic – China.
    4) Political – Russia
    5) Domestic – Tea Party and extreme right wing

    March 14, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Carpenter

    As if your opinion matter, America has lost it's greatness and withdrawn from world stage. Inexperienced president and his uninformed foreign polices has crippled Amerian judgement eg Middleast and now with Russia...liberal mindset of burying their head and self deception is the most dangerous sign for American existence than any external threats.

    March 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. Donna

    As the crisis in the Ukraine continues, a new national poll indicates that for the first time in more than a decade, more than half of Americans see Russia as a serious threat to the U.S.
    -–

    OK, this can't be correct. You see, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed the legendary "Russian Reset" button years ago and Obama has been slapping these very same Russian leaders on the knee and telling them about all of his added flexibility after his re-election.

    And Obama was even such a nice guy he unilaterally cancelled our missile defense shield and left two of our allies hanging out to dry, just to please the Russians and prove we were really, really nice people. They gave us nothing in return. Well, maybe a stick in the eye.

    And to think that Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney were 100% dead on correct in their assessment of Putin and Russia and Obama and Hillary Clinton were 100% dead WRONG. But who got the attacks and ridicule by the MSM? The people who were correct. Where are all of the apologies??? (queue the crickets)

    And the Obama adminstration foreign policy of fantasy blunders on.... Our allies (what few are left) tremble in fear while our adversaries lick their chops at the next Obama foreign policy bumble and fumble.

    March 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Olaf Big

    Yess! We finally found a worthy enemy again to drive our cherished paranoia and arm ourselves to the teeth. Saddam is gone, Bin Laden is gone. We can't really make an enemy out of China, because they own our economy. So Russia it is again! Backyard nuclear bunker anybody?

    March 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Julie

    The oligarchs of Russia are nervous. Putin has done damage regardless. There will be less interest in investments in Russia and a nagging worry that it might be their assets frozen. Russia is a threat to the Ukraine which has similiar corruption, not a threat to America.

    March 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Jamison Fitzgerald

    Obama doesn't, he openly mocks anyone who sees Russia as a threat

    March 14, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. liberal disease

    somebody better tell Barry because he laughed at Mitt Romney, clueless!!

    March 14, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. FZMello

    I bet you'd find that even more people feel that the U.S. government is a more serious threat to the U.S. than the Russians are.

    March 14, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. Collin

    Too late for this Obama Administration....Russia always is the enemy of USA for long time. Period

    March 14, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. john

    Putin is no worse than "Bush." We blasted our way into Iraq on a pretense. Did Russia sanction the US for our various invasions? These last 2 wars have weakened our country financially and morally. We have no right to judge the actions of Putin, besides, he got us out of a mess in Syria.

    March 14, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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