- Even in the east, a minority backs an alliance with Russia
- Two-thirds of Ukrainians back sanctions against Russia, CNN poll finds
- Ukrainians tend to see Putin as dangerous and strong, and Obama as friendly
- More than half of Ukrainians say the country should ally with Europe
(CNN) — Ukrainians are a lot less pro-Russian than separatists there would like the world to believe, even in regions along the border with Russia which are supposedly voting overwhelmingly to declare independence from Ukraine, a new poll for CNN suggests.
The people of Ukraine feel much more loyal to Europe than to Russia, and a clear majority back economic sanctions against Russia, according to the poll of 1,000 people across the country conducted in the past week.
Two out of three (67%) people in Ukraine approve of economic sanctions against Russia, while one out of three (29%) disapproves, the poll by ComRes for CNN found.
Ukrainians tend to see Russian President Vladimir Putin as dangerous and a strong leader, while they consider U.S. President Barack Obama friendly.
More than half (56%) said they felt a stronger sense of loyalty to Europe than to Russia, while 19% said they felt more loyal to Russia and 22% said neither. Three percent said they didn’t know.
Many vote in favor of independence
An armed pro-Russian separatist takes up a position near Slovyansk, Ukraine, on Monday, May 12. Tensions have been high since a pro-European government took charge of Ukraine in February. Separatists in the east and the south, many of them of Russian descent, view the new regime as illegitimate. Pro-Russian organizers say voters in the Donetsk region overwhelmingly supported independence from Ukraine in a weekend referendum. Preliminary results from Luhansk were expected Monday, officials said.
A man with a “self-defense” unit checks people’s identification in Slovyansk on Sunday, May 11.
A person leaves a voting booth in Luhansk, Ukraine, on May 11. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine voted on controversial referendums to declare independence from the government in Kiev. Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov called the vote “propagandist farce.”
Two men react after Ukrainian national guardsmen open fire on a crowd outside a town hall in Krasnoarmeisk, Ukraine, on May 11.
A Ukrainian woman votes at a polling station in Donetsk on May 11.
Ukrainians line up to cast their votes at a polling station in Donetsk on May 11.
A voter casts her ballot in eastern Ukraine’s independence referendum in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on May 11.
An armed pro-Russian man sits below a flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic at the barricades on a road leading into Slovyansk on May 11.
Black smoke billows from burning tires used to prevent government troops’ armored personnel carriers from passing through in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Saturday, May 10.
The mother of Dmitriy Nikityuk, who died in a fire at a trade union building during riots in Odessa, Ukraine, cries next to his coffin during his funeral on Thursday, May 8.
A Ukrainian soldier keeps guard at a checkpoint near Slovyansk on May 8.
A pro-Russian activist stands with a Russian national flag outside the regional Interior Ministry building in Luhansk, Ukraine, on Wednesday, May 7.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, right, inspects an armored personnel carrier in Slovyansk on May 7.
An armed pro-Russian separatist takes a position by the railway lines near Slovyansk on Tuesday, May 6.
A relative mourns by the body of 17-year-old Vadim Papura during a service in Odessa on May 6. Papura died after jumping out of a burning trade union building during riots on May 2.
A pro-Russian gunman holds his weapon while guarding the local administration building in Slovyansk on May 6.
Pro-Russian supporters lead blindfolded men in front of the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Monday, May 5.
Ukrainian policemen check documents at a checkpoint near the northeastern city of Izium, Ukraine, on May 5.
Ukrainian soldiers stand at a checkpoint near Slovyansk on May 5.
Pro-Russian Cossacks sit outside the regional administration building in Donetsk on May 5. Separatists in Donetsk said they are preparing a referendum to ask residents whether they want sovereignty from Ukraine.
Pro-Russian militants who were arrested during a Ukrainian unity rally are greeted on Sunday, May 4, after being freed by police in Odessa. The men released Sunday had been detained after bloody clashes in Odessa, which ended in a deadly blaze. Forty-six people were killed in the bloodshed.
A pro-Russian militant reacts after being freed on May 4 in Odessa.
Pro-Russian militants clash with police as they storm the police station in Odessa on May 4.
An Orthodox priest, in front of the administration building in Donetsk, blesses a pro-Russian activist May 4 as people gather to honor the memory of fallen comrades in Odessa.
Red carnations are left inside the burned trade union building in Odessa on May 4. Flowers, candles and photos of the dead piled up outside the charred building, a day after brutal clashes and the fire claimed 46 lives.
Pro-Russian protesters light candles in Donetsk on Saturday, May 3, to honor the memory of fallen comrades in Odessa.
A woman cries in front of the burned trade union building in Odessa on May 3.
A man walks past burning tires near Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on May 3.
Pro-Russian activists beat a pro-Ukraine supporter trying to save the Ukrainian flag that was removed from a flagpole outside the burned trade union building in Odessa.
Pro-Russian protesters gather in Donetsk to honor the memory of comrades who died in Odessa.
A portrait of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin is part of a barricade in the center of Slovyansk on May 3. The city has become the focus of an armed pro-Russian, anti-government insurgency that aspires to give the eastern regions of Ukraine full autonomy.
A pro-Russian activist sits in front of policemen guarding the burned trade union building in Odessa on May 3.
People lay flowers and candles at the burned trade union building in Odessa on May 3.
Ukrainian soldiers arrive to reinforce a checkpoint that troops seized Friday, May 2, in Andreevka, a village near Slovyansk. Two helicopters were downed Friday as Ukrainian security forces tried to dislodge pro-Russian separatists from Slovyansk, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.
Police take cover under shields as pro-Russian activists storm the prosecutor’s office in Donetsk on Thursday, May 1. Eastern Ukraine was a heartland of support for President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February.
A pro-Russian activist is wounded after storming the prosecutor’s office in Donetsk and clashing with riot police on May 1.
Pro-Russian activists storm the prosecutor’s office in Donetsk on May 1. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades in an effort to disperse the activists.
An injured Pro-Russian activist speaks with an armed protester during clashes with police in front of the regional administration building in Donetsk on May 1.
Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk on Tuesday, April 29.
Pro-Russia militants, armed with baseball bats and iron bars, hold flares as they attack people marching for national unity in Donetsk on Monday, April 28.
Detained observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe arrive to take part in a news conference Sunday, April 27, in Slovyansk. Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the self-declared mayor of Slovyansk, referred to the observers as “prisoners of war.”
Ukrainian troops stand guard behind a barricade made of sandbags at a checkpoint about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Slovyansk on April 27.
Relatives and friends of a man killed in a gunfight participate in his funeral ceremony in Slovyansk on Saturday, April 26.
U.S. troops arrive at an air force base near Siauliai Zuokniai, Lithuania, on April 26. The United States is conducting military exercises in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The exercises are, in part, a response to the ongoing instability in Ukraine.
Ukrainian government troops in armored vehicles travel on a country road outside the town of Svyitohirsk in eastern Ukraine on April 26.
Pro-Russia armed militants inspect a truck near Slovyansk on Friday, April 25. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the West of plotting to control Ukraine, and he said the pro-Russia insurgents in the southeast would lay down their arms only if the Ukrainian government clears out the Maidan protest camp in the capital, Kiev.
Pro-Russia militants keep records of their duty in Slovyansk on April 25.
Ukrainian troops take position near burning tires at a pro-Russian checkpoint in Slovyansk on Thursday, April 24.
Ukrainian special forces take position at an abandoned roadblock in Slovyansk on April 24.
A Ukrainian special forces member takes position in Slovyansk.
Cossacks carry a coffin into a church in Slovyansk on Tuesday, April 22, during a funeral for men killed in a gunfight at a checkpoint two days before.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk during a meeting in Kiev on April 22.
An armed pro-Russian man stands on a street in Slovyansk on Monday, April 21.
Demonstrators attend a pro-Russian rally outside the secret service building in Luhansk on April 21.
Cars are burned out after an attack at a roadblock in Slovyansk on Sunday, April 20.
A resident inspects burnt-out cars at a roadblock on April 20.
A pro-Russian militant is seen at the roadblock near Slovyansk on April 20.
Armed pro-Russian militants stand guard at a roadblock near Slovyansk on April 20.
A masked man stands guard outside a regional administration building seized by pro-Russian separatists in Slovyansk on Friday, April 18.
People walk around barricades April 18 set up at the regional administration building that was seized earlier in Donetsk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media after a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17. Putin denied that Russian forces are involved in the unrest in eastern Ukraine, though he did say for the first time that Russians were active in Crimea before the peninsula voted to join the country.
Ukrainian riot police officers stand guard during a pro-Ukrainian demonstration in Donetsk on April 17.
Masked pro-Russian protesters stand guard in front of the city hall in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 17.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaches out to shake hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the start of a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine. The meeting took place April 17 in Geneva, Switzerland.
A masked gunman stands guard near tanks in Slovyansk on Wednesday, April 16.
A Ukrainian helicopter flies over a column of Ukrainian Army combat vehicles on the way to Kramatorsk on April 16.
A masked pro-Russian gunman guards combat vehicles parked in downtown Slovyansk on April 16.
A man talks with Ukrainian soldiers as they are blocked by people on their way to Kramatorsk.
Ukrainian soldiers sit atop combat vehicles on their way to Kramatorsk.
Ukrainian Gen. Vasily Krutov is surrounded by protesters after addressing the crowd outside an airfield in Kramatorsk on Tuesday, April 15.
Pro-Russian activists guard a barricade April 15 outside the regional police building that they seized in Slovyansk.
Ukrainian troops receive munitions at a field on the outskirts of Izium on April 15.
Armed pro-Russian activists stand guard on top of a Ukrainian regional administration building in Slovyansk on Monday, April 14.
A pro-Russian activist carries a shield during the mass storming of a police station in Horlivka, Ukraine, on April 14.
Russian supporters attend a rally in front of the security service building occupied by pro-Russian activists in Luhansk on April 14.
A man places a Russian flag over a police station after storming the building in Horlivka on April 14.
Men besiege the police station in Horlivka.
The Horlivka police station burns on April 14.
A Ukrainian police officer receives medical care after being attacked at the police station in Horlivka on April 14.
Pro-Russian supporters beat a pro-Ukrainian activist during a rally in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sunday, April 13.
Pro-Russian activists escort a man outside the secret service building in Luhansk on April 13.
Pro-Russian protesters guard a barricade in Slovyansk on April 13 outside a regional police building seized by armed separatists the day before.
Armed pro-Russian activists carrying riot shields occupy a police station in Slovyansk on April 12.
A group of pro-Russian activists warm themselves by a fire Friday, April 11, in front of a Ukrainian Security Service office in Luhansk.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk speaks April 11 during his meeting with regional leaders in Donetsk, Ukraine. Yatsenyuk flew into Donetsk, where pro-Russian separatists occupied the regional administration building and called for a referendum.
Pro-Russian young men look over the fence of a military recruitment office in Donetsk on Thursday, April 10.
Armed pro-Russian protesters occupy the Security Service building in Luhansk on April 10.
Members of the self-proclaimed government the “Donetsk Republic” vote April 10 during a meeting at the seized regional administration building in Donetsk.
Ukrainian lawmakers from different parties scuffle during a Parliament session in Kiev on Tuesday, April 8.
Workers clean up on April 8 after pro-Russian separatists and police clashed overnight in Kharkiv.
Pro-Russian protesters burn tires near a regional administration building in Kharkiv after police cleared the building on Monday, April 7.
A masked man stands on top of a barricade at the regional administration building in Donetsk on April 7.
Protesters wave a Russian flag as they storm the regional administration building in Donetsk on Sunday, April 6. Protesters seized state buildings in several east Ukrainian cities, prompting accusations from Kiev that Moscow is trying to “dismember” the country.
Pro-Russian protesters clash with police as they try to occupy a regional administration building in Donetsk on April 6.
Pro-Russian activists hold a rally in front of a Ukrainian Security Service office in Luhansk on April 6.
A young demonstrator with his mouth covered by a Russian flag attends a pro-Russia rally outside the regional government administration building in Donetsk on Saturday, April 5.
A Ukrainian soldier guards a road not far from Prokhody, a village near the Russian border, on April 5. Ukrainian and Western officials have voiced alarm about Russia’s reported military buildup on Ukraine’s eastern border.
Ukrainian cadets at the Higher Naval School embrace a friend who has decided to stay in the school during a departure ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Friday, April 4. Some 120 cadets who refused to take Russian citizenship left the school to return to Ukraine.
Soviet military veterans take part in a flower-laying ceremony at the Soviet-era World War II memorial in Sevastopol on Thursday, April 3.
Ukrainian soldiers conduct a training session on the Desna military shooting range northeast of Kiev on Wednesday, April 2.
Russian soldiers prepare for diving training in front of a Tarantul-III class missile boat Tuesday, April 1, in Sevastopol.
People pass by barricades near the Dnipro Hotel in Kiev on April 1.
People walk past a train loaded with Russian tanks Monday, March 31, in the Gvardeyskoe railway station near Simferopol, Crimea.
A Russian solder sits in a tank at the Ostryakovo railway station, not far from Simferopol on March 31.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks about the economic development of Crimea during a meeting March 31 in Simferopol.
Members of the Ukrainian National Guard take part in military exercises on a shooting range near Kiev on March 31.
A woman cries Sunday, March 30, during a gathering to honor those who were killed during protests in Kiev’s Independence Square.
A woman and child walk past a line of police officers during a rally in Kharkiv on March 30.
Ukrainian soldiers take part in a training exercise at a military base in Donetsk on Saturday, March 29.
Demonstrators protest Friday, March 28, in Kiev, displaying police vehicles they seized during earlier clashes with authorities.
Members of the Right Sector group block the Ukrainian parliament building in Kiev on Thursday, March 27. Activists called for Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to step down after the recent killing of radical nationalist leader Oleksandr Muzychko, who died during a police operation to detain him. Muzychko and the Right Sector are credited with playing a lead role in the protests that toppled Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych.
Ukrainian tanks are transported from their base in Perevalne, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 26. After Russian troops seized most of Ukraine’s bases in Crimea, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the withdrawal of armed forces from the Black Sea peninsula, citing Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families.
Ukrainian marines wave as they leave a base in Feodosia, Crimea, on Tuesday, March 25.
Russian sailors stand on the deck of the corvette ship Suzdalets in the bay of Sevastopol on March 25.
Pro-Russian militia members remove a resident as Russian troops assault the Belbek air base, outside Sevastopol, on Saturday, March 22. After its annexation of Crimea, Russian forces have consolidated their control of the region.
Soldiers in unmarked uniforms sit atop an armored personnel carrier at the gate of the Belbek air base on March 22.
A Russian sailor holds the Russian Navy’s St. Andrew’s flag while standing on the bow of the surrendered Ukrainian submarine Zaporozhye on March 22 in Sevastopol.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signs the final decree completing the annexation of Crimea on Friday, March 21, as Upper House Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, left, and State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin watch.
A Ukrainian serviceman leaves a Ukrainian military unit that Russian soldiers took control of in Perevalne on March 21.
Ukrainian border guards run during training at a military camp in Alekseyevka, Ukraine, on March 21.
Russian soldiers patrol the area surrounding a Ukrainian military unit in Perevalne on Thursday, March 20.
Pro-Russian protesters remove the gate to the Ukrainian navy headquarters as Russian troops stand guard in Sevastopol on Wednesday, March 19.
Pro-Russian forces walk inside the Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sevastopol on March 19.
A member of pro-Russian forces takes down a Ukrainian flag at the Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sevastopol on March 19.
Alexander Vitko, chief of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, leaves the Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sevastopol after pro-Russian forces took it over on March 19.
A Russian flag waves as workers install a new sign on a parliament building in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, on March 19.
Russian military personnel surround a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne on March 19.
Nameplates on the front of the Crimean parliament building get removed Tuesday, March 18, in Simferopol.
From left, Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov; Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Crimean parliament; Russian President Vladimir Putin; and Alexei Chaly, the new de facto mayor of Sevastopol, join hands in Moscow on March 18 after signing a treaty to make Crimea part of Russia.
Demonstrators hold a Crimean flag at Lenin Square in Simferopol on March 18.
Ukrainian soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint near Strilkove, Ukraine, close to Crimea on Monday, March 17.
Former boxer and Ukrainian politician Vitali Klitschko addresses reporters in Kiev on March 17.
Ukrainian troops stand guard in front of the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev on March 17.
A Ukrainian man applies for the National Guard at a mobile recruitment center in Kiev on March 17.
Civilians walk past riot police in Simferopol on March 17.
A Ukrainian soldier stands on top of an armored vehicle at a military camp near the village of Michurino, Ukraine, on March 17.
Policemen stand guard outside the regional state administration building in Donetsk during a rally by pro-Russia activists March 17.
Armed soldiers stand guard outside a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne on March 17.
A man holds a Crimean flag as he stands in front of the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol on March 17.
Crimeans holding Russian flags celebrate in front of the parliament building in Simferopol on Sunday, March 16.
A Ukrainian police officer tries to shield himself from a road block thrown by pro-Russia supporters in Kharkiv on March 16.
Pro-Russia demonstrators storm the prosecutor general’s office during a rally in Donetsk on March 16.
A woman leaves a voting booth in Sevastopol on March 16. See the crisis in Ukraine before Crimea voted
Photos: Crisis in Ukraine
Some Ukraine voters seen voting twice
The results come a day after pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country said people there had voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine, in a referendum denounced by the United States and its European allies.
The CNN poll found that even in eastern Ukraine, a minority of people back an alliance with Russia.
Just over a third (37%) of Ukrainians in three eastern regions favor an alliance with Russia, while 14% of the region backs an alliance with the European Union and about half (49%) say Ukraine would be better off if it did not ally with either, the poll found.
“Eastern Ukraine” includes the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, which are generally seen as among the most pro-Russian areas in the country.
Donetsk and Luhansk held referendums on independence on Sunday, with an election official in Donetsk saying Monday the region had voted 90% in favor.
Nationwide, a slight majority (54%) said it would be good for Ukraine to join the EU. More than eight out of 10 (82%) said it would be bad for the country to have Russian troops in Ukraine.
And despite the crisis that has pitted Russia against the United States and European Union over the fate of the second-largest country in Europe, Ukrainians are optimistic about the future.
Two out of three people said they were optimistic about the political future of the country (65%) and the same proportion (67%) said they were optimistic about its economic future.
Putin vs. Obama
Nearly half (44%) of respondents to the CNN poll said Putin was a strong leader, compared to 27% who saw Obama that way. About a quarter (23%) said neither and six percent said they didn’t know.
Two-thirds (67%) described Putin as “dangerous,” while only 15% saw Obama that way.
But Obama came out well ahead of Putin as “friendly,” with 47% applying the description to the U.S. President and only 14% saying it of Putin. About a third (34%) said neither was friendly, and five percent said they didn’t know.
Neither leader came across as especially reliable, with 32% choosing Obama, 19% choosing Putin and 45% saying neither.
The findings, by the London-based agency ComRes for CNN, come from a nationally representative telephone poll of 1,000 Ukrainians conducted by telephone in Russian and Ukrainian from May 7-11. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.