French and German people are also much less likely than British or Nordic people to show sympathy for the new Ukrainian government
Last week US President Barack Obama met with European Union leaders to discuss the imposition of “deeper sanctions” in the event of a Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine, following the annexation of the Crimea region. The US and EU countries had previously agreed to limited sanctions including asset freezes and visa restrictions for some Russian officials.
A new YouGov EuroTrack survey of seven European countries shows varying support for further sanctions against Russia.
While there is narrow support for trade sanctions in Germany (43% to 36%) and France (43% to 31%), the same action is supported by two-to-one margins in most of the other countries surveyed, including Great Britain (50% to 23%).
In France and Germany people are also evenly divided on expelling Russia from the G8, something which people in Britain and the Nordic countries tend to support.
However, British public opinion is more in line with French and German opinion on other actions, like breaking off diplomatic relations with Russia or military options. Military options are opposed by 50% or more in each country surveyed except for Norway and Finland, which notably both share a border with Russia. One action where Britain is less supportive compared to most of the other countries is providing financial aid to the new Ukrainian government. The British public oppose this by 39% to 30%; Germans support it by 43% to 35%.
French, German and British leaders have been cautious about pushing for a stronger diplomatic response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Due to their close trade ties with Moscow, the French and German economies would be particularly at risk if Russia were to impose retributive sanctions against Western countries, and Russian investment in London also leaves the British economy exposed.
Picking a side
Another notable difference between Britain and the Nordic countries on one hand, and France and Germany on the other, is where public sympathies lie with regard to the crisis. Few people in either group of countries sympathise more with Moscow, but those in France and Germany are much less likely to sympathise with the new Ukrainian government. Most of all, people in France and Germany sympathise with “neither” government.
On Monday Russian officials announced a “partial withdrawal” of the Russian soldiers massed along the Russia-Ukraine border, reportedly now in the tens of thousands, offering some hope that the crisis in Ukraine may begin to de-escalate after weeks of uncertainty.