During the 2012 presidential race, Republican Mitt Romney was mocked by President Obama during a debate for calling Russia — and not al-Qaida — the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the United States.
But a new Gallup poll released Wednesday shows perhaps some belated support for the Romney view: More Americans see Russia as unfriendly or an enemy — as opposed to friendly or an ally — for the first time since at least 1999.
According to the survey, 50 percent of Americans consider Russia unfriendly or an enemy, while 44 percent think the country is friendly or an ally. (Specifically, 34 percent called it unfriendly, 16 percent an enemy, 31 percent friendly, and 13 percent an ally.)
The last time Gallup posed this question, in 2006, 73 percent of those polled called Russia friendly or an ally, compared with just 20 percent who saw it as unfriendly or an enemy.
Gallup’s most recent poll was conducted Sunday and Monday, not long after Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed in The New York Times critical of Obama’s foreign policy approach, his speech to the American people on Syria, and the idea of American exceptionalism.
Putin continues to stand by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and he recently granted National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum in Russia. But he also assisted the U.S. in reaching a deal to require Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpile.
The poll found that 54 percent of Americans view Putin unfavorably, and 19 percent hold a favorable view. The last time Gallup asked Americans their opinion of Putin — 10 years ago — 38 percent had a favorable impression of the Russian leader, with 28 percent unfavorable.
In the most recent poll, 72 percent of respondents said they approved of the Syria plan that Putin helped broker, which calls for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to an international body. Eighteen percent of Americans disapproved of the deal, which interrupted Obama’s call for congressional approval for a military strike on Syria