Report: Russians Shrug off US Sanctions, Believe Crimea Annexation Brought More Good Than Harm

January 26, 2018

As the Jan. 29 deadline approaches for the Trump administration to provide a list of entities that will face sanctions for continuing to do business with Russians, new polling data show the Russian public is unconcerned about sanctions passed in retaliation for Russian interference in the 2016 election and the annexation of Crimea. Further, Russians think the annexation of Crimea has brought more good than harm overall, according to new research published by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs with the help of Russian polling firm Levada Center.

The report, "American and Russian Opinion at a Standoff on Crimea Sanctions," is based on public opinion data from both the United States and Russia. Among the key findings:

  • Only 15 percent of Russians think that U.S. economic sanctions are a critical threat to their country, the lowest percentage of all potential threats presented in the survey.
  • About two-thirds of Russians say they are not very (40 percent) or absolutely not (28 percent) concerned about the political and economic sanctions imposed by Western countries.
  • Russians further think the annexation of Crimea has brought more good (60 percent) than harm (17 percent) overall.
  • Two in three Russians (66 percent) say they are not very or not at all concerned about international isolation due to their country's involvement in Ukraine.

For their part, a solid majority of Americans support maintaining (39 percent) or increasing (38 percent) U.S. sanctions on Russia “in response to its actions in Ukraine and its interference in the 2016 presidential election.” Just two in ten say the sanctions should be decreased (8 percent) or stopped altogether (11 percent).

For full findings and report methodology, please view the report here.

This is the second of three reports based on coordinated surveys conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Center in Moscow on U.S.-Russian public opinion about foreign policy issues, generously funded by the Carnegie Corporation.

About the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. Ranked No. 1 Think Tank to Watch worldwide, the Council on Global Affairs is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business and governments engage the world. Learn more at and follow @ChicagoCouncil.

About the Levada-Center
The Levada-Center is one of the leading research organizations in Russia that conduct mass public surveys, expert and elite surveys, depth interviews, focus groups as well as other survey methods. Staff of the center brings together experts in the field of sociology, political science, economics, psychology, market research, and public opinion polls. Polling results and expertise of the Center’s staff is broadly covered by national and international media such as Kommersant, Vedomosti, RBC, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reuters, BBC Radio, Radio Liberty, and others. Learn more at and follow @levada_ru or on Facebook.