March 26th, 2014
08:59 AM ET
8 months ago

Poll: Crisis in Ukraine beyond U.S. control

Washington (CNN) - Nearly six in ten Americans say they approve of the sanctions the United States and the West have placed on Russia, but they don't expect the sanctions to be effective, according to a new national survey.

And a CBS News poll also indicates more people disapprove than approve of how President Barack Obama has handled the crisis, and a majority of the public feels the situation in Ukraine is beyond America's control and that the U.S. doesn't have a responsibility to get involved.

According to the poll, 56% of the public, including a majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans, say they back the sanctions, with 32% saying they disapprove. But 58% say they don't think the sanctions will be very effective, or effective at all.

In what has become the biggest East-West confrontation since the Cold War, the U.S. and European Union imposed visa bans and asset freezes on some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest political and business allies. Russia responded with its own list of sanctions against a number of U.S. lawmakers and officials.

The G7 group of leading industrialized countries has condemned both the Crimean vote to secede and Russia's annexation of Crimea, which was an autonomous region of Ukraine with a large pro-Russian population. Moscow has now been excluded from what was the G8. Russia had joined the G7 group in 1998 to form the G8.

The President's performance

Thirty-eight percent of those questioned in the survey, which was released Tuesday, say they approve of how the President's handling the crisis, with 46% giving Obama a thumbs down and 16% unsure.

The President on Tuesday defended his response to Russia's military led annexation of the Crimean peninsula and noted that Moscow could face further sanctions should Russian forces invade other parts of Ukraine.

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors," Obama said, adding Moscow's actions are "not out of strength but out of weakness."

He argued the fate of Crimea is "not a done deal," even as he agreed Russia controls the situation on the ground.

Does U.S. have responsibility?

Nearly six in ten questioned in the poll say the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is beyond U.S. control, and just over six in ten say America doesn't have a responsibility to do something about the crisis. Nearly two-thirds say Washington should not provide military aid and equipment to the government in Kiev.

The survey, along with a recent CNN/ORC International poll, indicates a shift in perceptions about Russia. Forty-two percent of Americans consider Russia an ally or friendly country, down from 80% back in 2003, with 51% describing the country as unfriendly or an enemy, up from 12%.

Forty-three percent say that America's image in the world has degraded since Obama became president, with 32% saying the country's international image has improved, and one in five saying there's been no effect.

The CBS News poll was conducted March 20-23, with 1,097 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report


Filed under: President Obama • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    USSR–it says all. Till 1991, Ukraine was part of Russia, because communism could not survive, it had to part with. Well, G-8 kicked out Russia, let EU deal the rest. Good luck, Obama. God bless!!!!

    March 26, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  2. bill

    what a great farmer obama would make--he would shut the gate AFTER the horse is long gone. As a citizen and vet I have to say the lowest character of obama was shown when he was asked about making fun of Romney who understood the nature of Russia--"Russis is a regional nation". wow-they have twice the bombs we have and RUSSIA HAS THE ONLY SPACE PROGRAM TO PUT THE BOMBS IN????? Obama and Hillary gave them the reset button???? it worked, Putin has reset Russia towards where they once were and Obama say it does not exist-the cold war is over???? wow-what a president

    March 26, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. rla

    Yep Luck and talk is all this president has an d Putin knows that! Too bad American voters are too dumb to elect leaders with experience and opt for community organizers who make lies look respectable with the support of a vapid media and the likes of Reid and Pelosi and lets include Dodd – Frank and Schumer... The best bunch of progressive yes people ever assembled.... Semi quote from Hughy Long!

    March 26, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    And a CBS News poll also indicates more people disapprove than approve of how President Barack Obama has handled the crisis, and a majority of the public feels the situation in Ukraine is beyond America's control and that the U.S. doesn't have a responsibility to get involved.
    ------------------------------------
    This has got to be the most oxymoronic statement I've read. If the situation is beyond our control, and 6/10 people approve of the sanctions, what more can be done? The missle defense system back in Poland may be the only viable thing to do, but besides for that, what? Boots on the ground? I don't think we're ready for World War 3 just yet. Putin is just grabbing what he can now because he's aware that we need his assistance when it comes to bigger issues such as Syria & Iran. It's chess, not checkers. Frankly I can care less about what they do in their region of the world. Not my concern.

    March 26, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. quinLee

    America has become a bunch of conflicted whiners. We approve of this, but disapprove of that – which is actually the same thing we approve of. We approve of an action, but show disapproval towards the person/people actually doing the action we mostly approve of. And when it all boils down, no one actually knows what the he11 they are talking, but they know they DISAPPROVE.

    March 26, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. patNY

    This poll just shows how screwed up people are in this country. It makes no sense that about 2/3rds polled approve of the sanctions Obama put in place, but more than half disapprove of how Obama has handled this matter. Who did CNN poll? A group of idiots that's who CNN polled.

    March 26, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    As I sit here at my computer this rather cloudy day and think back of my vote for Barack Obama, I've decided that perhaps I was wrong to vote for him. Had America voted for John McCain, all would be well in the world: no wars, world economy not only on a rebound, but austerity at its highest levels yet. $arah Palin wowing the world with her insight and beauty. No Mitt Romney loss for Mitt to run around trying to pretend otherwise. A Republican party in control of all things and all people. Democrats scratching their heads wondering where it all went wrong. A media ogling President McCain and Vice President Palin in typical "they can do no wrong" Republican euphoria of all is well in the world.

    Never in my lifetime have I seen one President become the "fault" of an entire media industry gone wild. Not even the Clinton years were as devastating to witness as has become the norm for President Obama. And Nixon? Not even close in its intensity or its mania of bringing this one particular man to his knees.

    Oh, I think it's understood throughout America why the intensity ... why the mania. Especially where our media is involved.

    But, yeah. Maybe John McCain would have brought world peace. American domination. Economic boom.

    Or America COULD have given Barack Obama a better hand to play in Congress and in a media that has left ALL dignity at the door of the GOP and stepped on the bandwagon of greed, misinformation, and self righteous punditry that has become New America.

    Don't believe me? Spend 10 minutes watching the missing flight 370 coverage. One conspiracy theory after another, very much in line with our political coverage for the past 6 years.

    And the Bush years? Silence. Utter silence.

    March 26, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. Derrick

    CNN polled a bunch of morons who hate Obama no matter what he does and who would complain if he cured cancer and say he stepped on their right to die of cancer

    March 26, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. Expat American

    Crimea is a Russia/Ukraine issue. The USSR will not rise again. What more can the Unites States do at this point? Many Republicans like Lindsey "Old Woman Face Lift' Graham are throwing around accusations of weakness, etc....but as usual, their 'opposition' stops short of any suggestions of their own.

    March 26, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. Sniffit

    LOL. There was nothing that could have been done about it in the first place. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just clinging to delusions of our ability to influence and, more particularly, CONTROL everything, everyone and what's going on in the world. There there, we know, you get so very very frustrated when our powerlessness to control the world is thrown in our faces and you need someone to blame...there there, let it aaaaaalll out...here's a tissue.

    March 26, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. TONE

    Like i said the Republiclowns are banking on the American people's stupidity, now Americans have to prove in november that they are not that stupid afterall.

    March 26, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Gurgyl

    @ria, you seem to be so idiotic, do you want America to go to war to drain its fiscal positions, which you Bush Reagan already drained to ground. Well, you say community organizer, well, he is the Elected president by majority TWICE, I mean TWICE. Just know this truth. American majority is not as dumb as you. God bless. You quit.

    March 26, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "This has got to be the most oxymoronic statement I've read"

    Cognitive dissonance is the American voters' bread and butter.

    March 26, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Poll: Crisis in Ukraine beyond U.S. control
    -------------------------------------–
    Not according to Mitt Romney. Count Mitt as one of those who feel that not only is it within U.S. control, but that it should be.

    March 26, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "Like i said the Republiclowns are banking on the American people's stupidity, now Americans have to prove in november that they are not that stupid afterall."

    There's a reason the rest of the world thinks Americans are bloviating, bigoted, braggadocio blathering idiots.

    March 26, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. Randy, San Francisco

    The people of Crimea will realize they are the losers when they see that their Ukrainian neighbors are much better off with more freedoms and prosperity.

    March 26, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. guest

    agreed with sniffit. When America is viewed as great by the world, it is not because we go in and proactively police other countries' thoughts and actions. It is when we stay out of the current goings on and just observe. When it gets out of hand we step up, with the moral authority and the world's blessings to put the situation to rights as can best be handled. When we are at our strongest in the world, e are more of a referee handing out penalties for bad actions, rather than the republicans' thought police trying to stop any bad thing from happening at all (except for all the bad things we are doing in the name of stopping random people from doing bad things).

    You can not preemptively stop people from doing bad things. You can be present and remind them that they really dont want to do that bad thing, but you cant stop people from taking that final step from wanting to do something bad to actually doing it, you can only punish them after the bad thing is done. You cant be thought police, you can only police up done actions.

    March 26, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What would people less informed than a fifth grader have us do?
    Our national security is not being threatened by the Ukraine situation, no matter what Mitt the Twit would have you panicking about.
    The ONLY thing we can do is continue to impose sanctions that would twist the arm of Russia into seeing reason.
    We've become so accustomed after years of mob rule under Bush's Reign of Arrigance and Terror to imposing via our military our wishes upon the rest of the world that we don't even know what collaborative behaviour amongst the leading nations of the world looks likle.
    Well it looks like exactly what this President is doing.
    Take a picture, have a seat, sip a drink and stfu.

    @ Lynda Minnesota who eloquently wrote:
    Not even close in its intensity or its mania of bringing this one particular man to his knees.

    Oh, I think it's understood throughout America why the intensity ... why the mania. Especially where our media is involved
    *****************************************************************************************************************
    You brought a tear to my eyes my friend.
    How much better off we would be indeed if only this unjust and gross persecution of ONE man at the expense of our country's political, spiritual, and financial were not the ONLY goal of media and poltical foes alike.
    We are living through a segment of our history that will never be repeated again in terms of the willingness and true committment of our President to move our nation FORWARD, and the almost insurmountable committment of certain interests to prevent that from happenning under his helm.

    March 26, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  19. Boomer in Mo

    Maybe the American public is starting to think for themselves instead of letting clowns on TV and radio tell them what to think. Now if our politicians would just develop brains and the ability to use them.

    March 26, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Please pardon missing words, and misspellings as I am trying to multi-task, none too effectively here at my auto-industry related job that our President was intelligent enough to save. Thanks again Mr. President.

    March 26, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    patNY wrote:

    This poll just shows how screwed up people are in this country. It makes no sense that about 2/3rds polled approve of the sanctions Obama put in place, but more than half disapprove of how Obama has handled this matter. Who did CNN poll? A group of idiots that's who CNN polled.
    ----------------------
    Sometimes you can get seemingly contradictory results simply because of the order in which you ask the questions.

    March 26, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. sonny chapman

    But BILL, aren't you forgetting that George W. "gazed" into Putin's eyes & saw his soul & ASSURED Americans that he was a "Cool" Guy ?

    March 26, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama:

    You cannot shame the shameless; the GOP has become nothing but a party of shameless tinfoil hat haters. Of that these past six years are proof. Unfortunately, tinfoil is at its premium where our media is concerned.

    I've reached my limit ... both with the media AND the tinfoil crowd.

    March 26, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Gunderson

    Well,
    We took care of that problem, no? Now back to Community Organizing and Food Stamps!

    March 26, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    There's a reason the rest of the world thinks Americans are bloviating, bigoted, braggadocio blathering idiots
    -------------------------------------------------
    Methinks that unless the Dems stop playing defense to the GOP's game, flip the script and realize that Americans (unfortunately) respond and remember soundbites rather than appeals to their intellect or long-term memory, we're going to prove the rest of the world right this November.

    March 26, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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