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Despite the annexation of Crimea being the catalyst for Russia’s isolation from much of the international community, a majority of Russians say it has brought their country more good than harm, according to a new binational survey from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Analytical Center.

The report, “Russians Want Crimea; Prefer Luhansk and Donetsk Independent,” finds that five years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russians see both positive and negative impacts from their government’s actions abroad including a worsened economy.

Key findings from the report include:

  • A majority of Russians (62 percent) say that Russia’s annexation of Crimea brought the country more good than harm, but only three in ten (29 percent) want the Ukrainian breakaway republics, Donetsk and Luhansk, to be absorbed by Russia. A plurality prefer them becoming independent states (46 percent).
  • Majorities of Russians say Moscow’s recent international actions have worsened the economy (58 percent), standards of living (64 percent) and relations with the United States (78 percent). Yet, majorities also see improvements in Russia’s defense forces (83 percent) and international influence (62 percent).
  • Despite the negative consequences of Russia’s recent foreign policy, seven in ten Russians (70 percent) think that playing an active role in world affairs is better for their country.

For more findings, graphics and methodology download the full reports here.


The analysis in this report is based on data from a joint Chicago Council-Levada Analytical Center survey on Russian and American Attitudes conducted in February 2019.

The US survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs using their national online omnibus service, KnowledgePanel™, between February 22-24, 2019 among a weighted national sample of 1,016 American adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±3 percentage points.

The Russia survey was conducted between February 14-20, 2019 by the Levada-Center (Levada Analytical Center) with face-to-face interviews conducted among a representative sample of 1,613 persons aged 18 years and older, living in eight federal districts of the Russian Federation. Inside each district, the sample is distributed among five strata of settlements proportionally to the number of population living in them, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error is ±3.4 percentage points.

The 2019 and 2017 Chicago Council-Levada Analytical Center Joint Surveys on Russian and American Attitudes are made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Chicago Council public opinion research is a project of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy, and this project is made possible by the generous support of the Crown family and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.