Survey: Russia Unpopular in the West but So Is War With Putin

Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Italy
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the end of a meeting in Milan, Italy, June 10, 2015. According to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the Western public has grown very skeptical about Putin, but he still has an overwhelming support of the Russian citizens Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters

Most people in the West don't seem to like Russia and believe Moscow is responsible for the war in Ukraine, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in eight NATO countries. But few seem willing to use military force to defend a NATO ally from an attack by President Vladimir Putin.

The survey, which was released on Wednesday, found that the vast majority of respondents in the U.S., Poland, Spain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. hold increasingly negative views of Russia and have less and less confidence that Putin will "do the right thing" in world affairs.

But fewer than half of respondents in every country except Poland favored sending arms to Ukraine to defeat Russian backed separatists. (In Poland that figure was 50 percent.) Most—70 percent—however did support sending economic aid to the government in Kiev.

The question of using military force against Russia if Moscow attacked a NATO country was slightly more divisive. The North Atlantic Treaty, which created NATO in 1949, says that member countries "agree that an armed attack against one or more of them…shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that [they] will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by…such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force."

But not all NATO members think using military force in such a circumstance is a good idea. In the U.S. and Canada, the majority of the respondents (56 and 53 percent respectively) said their government should send troops to defend another NATO country if it gets involved in a military conflict with Russia. But fewer than 50 percent of respondents in the U.K., Poland, Spain, France and Italy agreed, while 58 percent of German respondents said their country shouldn't use military force in such a situation.

In the U.S., Republicans and Democrats are also divided as to how to deal with Russia. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans and fewer than 50 percent of Democrats said the U.S. should send arms to the Ukrainian government or use military force against Russia to defend a NATO ally.