July 21st, 2014
04:01 PM ET
5 months ago

CNN poll: Favorable views of Russia drop following Malaysian airliner crash

Washington (CNN) - Most Americans say Russia is directly or indirectly responsible for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner over eastern Ukraine, and unfavorable opinions of Russia have surged, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey conducted Friday through Sunday also indicates that nearly nine in 10 say that Moscow and pro-Russian rebels that control the area where Flight 17 crashed last week will try to cover something up in any international investigation.

But only one in 10 say the United States should take military action if there is clear evidence that Russia is responsible for the shooting down of the plane, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.

U.S. and other officials have said it appears the plane was shot down by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile. While they have stopped short of putting the responsibility squarely on Russia, President Barack Obama and others have said the rebels could not have acted without weapons and training from Russia.

Release of the poll comes as Obama lashed out at Moscow over conditions at the crash site, saying the rebels continue to impede efforts to recover bodies and investigate exactly what happened.

He called on Russia to rein in the rebel fighters, who he said had treated remains poorly and removed evidence.

"What exactly are they trying to hide?" Obama asked.

According to the poll, just 19% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Russia, down from 41% in February. Fifty-seven percent of the public saw Russia in a positive way in a 2011 CNN/ORC survey.

Seventy-eight percent of those questioned say they have an unfavorable opinion of Russia, a surge of 23 percentage points since February. Only 40% of Americans in the 2011 CNN poll had a negative view of Russia.

"Negative views of Russia are up across the board, but some of the biggest changes come among women and younger Americans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"A bare majority of Americans under the age of 50 had a favorable view of Russia in February, but now that number has dropped 27 points. That may be due to the fact that older Americans are more likely to remember the Cold War and take a less optimistic view of Russia. Positive views of Russia are also down 26 points among women, compared to 18 points among men," Holland added.

Opinion: Vladimir Putin's big blunder

Who's to blame?

Fifty-six percent of the public said it is very likely that rebel groups launched the missile that brought down Flight 17, according to the survey. Another 24% believe that it's somewhat likely and only one in seven think it's unlikely.

Just over a third said Moscow is directly responsible for the disaster, with another 51% saying Russia's indirectly responsible.

"That leaves only 11% who say that Russia had nothing to do with the attack," Holland added.

And only 7% say they trust Russia and the separatist groups in eastern Ukraine to fully cooperate with the international investigation. More than nine in 10 say they think Moscow and the separatists will try to cover something up.

Hours before the poll's release, Obama said it was time for Russia to exert what he called its "enormous influence" over the rebel fighters to persuade them to better cooperate with the international investigation.

"It's the least they can do," Obama added.

A representative for the rebels in Ukraine told CNN that the Boeing 777's "black box" cockpit voice and flight data recorders would be handed over to Malaysian investigators on Monday night.

How should the U.S. respond?

If there is clear evidence that Russia is responsible for the crash, more than seven in 10 said the United States should exert economic or diplomatic sanctions against Moscow, with 19% saying Washington should take no action at all. Only 9% said America should take military action.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. sly

    Confusious Say:

    "He who fly over war zone get shot".

    "War is hell".

    Get over it. Y'all didn't say nuttin' when it was America who shot down the commercial airliner. Always amusing to read what the 93% of Americans who were in favor of invading Iraq have to say. (Especially since I know about 60% of Americans wil change their minds entirely within a few months and be complaining about what they put into place).

    July 21, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Unic

    The Kremlin's mafia and boss Putin are responsible 100%. More sanctions on Russia! tougher sanctions! more and more and more until they learn to respect the legal international disciplines and sovereign states.

    July 21, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. gstlab3

    This is'nt about like or dislike., it's about the EU and the Russians fighting over an economic territory and the gas markets.

    The Eu is broke and needs to sell something like imported bottled gas to a captive economy.,
    Kind've like what the Russians have had up until a certain groups came up with the idea to sell bottled gas to the Ukrane.
    Spy versus spy and nobody tells the truth.
    The truth is it's about oil and gas and who gets paid to supply it to who and when.

    July 21, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    morebs
    funny how that quite a few "government leaders" were praising putin not long ago. where are they now?
    ----------

    Where are they now? Good question. Count to 100 and start looking. Best bet ... NOT in their congressional offices.

    July 21, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @OK: "All the GOPTards want is another "unfunded/off-the-books" war. A war that neither side could win. But that doesn't matter to GOPTards."

    It's all part of the repub strategy to break our country economically, and then use that as an excuse to eliminate social spending and sell off our infrastructure and natural resources to "investors."

    July 21, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    A good clear first message to Russia would be for the nations of the world to expel the Russian ambassadors and recall our ambassadors. If you have 30 to 50 nations doing that Putin would get a dose of reality and come to some sort of sense.

    July 21, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @tom l: "I honestly can't think of one gang member that does not fit the description perfectly. Not one of them."

    Love all the blanket statements about some imaginary "gang," when it's only folks pushing back on all the lies being posted here.

    July 21, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. TeaPatriot

    the 19% must be supporters of President Hussein!!!

    July 21, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    -this wouldn't take a war? Do you think Putin is a 19 year old kid? Nonsense talk of republican trash–no wonder republicans are hated like a hell and crazy around globe.

    July 21, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Carlos Suazo

    A good first response is for countries throughout the world is to expel the Russian Ambassador and to recall our Ambassadors. If 30 to 50 nations did that Putin would realize that the world is serious and perhaps it would be a wake up call for the Russian government.

    July 21, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Thomas

    President George W. Bush claimed that he looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes, got a “sense of his soul .

    DEEP !

    July 21, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Den

    Another Tea Party darling falls from grace.

    July 21, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Darth cheney

    It doesn't seem like but a few months ago that the GOP was all gaga over Putin. Not hearing too much of that now, eh?

    July 21, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Len

    Wow. Americans really are stupid. How in the world did ~50% of Americans have favorable views about Russia before MH17? It's as if they don't know anything about Russia and Putin.

    July 21, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. bmike

    I agree with Philippe's comment Putin needs to be arrested for war crimes killing the those with no remorse and acting like it's another day at the office..Russia plain an simple was behind it indirectly or directly. They are to blame hope the world gets together and actually does something against him.

    July 21, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Liam

    Putin does whatever he wants to do much like Obama. Obama has his phone, pen, and all the other agencies to tamp down dissent like happened in the IRS scandal.

    July 21, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Dead Bear

    @it must be said... Yeah right! Russia's favorable ratings come from all of you traitors on the right who think Putin is the man for causing headaches for Obama. God forbid any of you "patriots" stand behind our own president!

    July 21, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. TheSadTruth

    Yes, TeaPublican cowards are back under their rocks, ashamed of their fervent devotion to Putin only a few mmonths ago.

    July 21, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. qer

    This is a complete madness! Even before any investigation was conducted, there are people that want to start a war. Even if we find out that rebels accidentally shot down the plane, does that mean we should go to war?

    July 21, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. alfvansen@ymail.com

    Just goes to show that US government propaganda works on its people.

    July 21, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Liam

    It couldn't be conservatives as they love Freedom. You liberals are big fans of government intrusion, taxes, and the nanny state so Russia is a perfect fit.

    July 21, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Democrat Junk

    Dead Bear ...You're off base and now you're out! I'm on the right and your accusation never, never, never entered my mind. And this is how the BS gets started! How about a new moniker....Brain Dead.

    July 21, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    And about 3% of those polled had ever heard of Ukraine or the Russian separatists there before said poll. Wisdom of the masses, indeed.

    July 21, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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