Poll: Ukraine has mixed reaction to US influence


Ukrainians have a mixed assessment of the United States' influence in the country, according to a Pew Research poll released Thursday. 

The survey, conducted in the country throughout the month of April, found 38 percent say it is positive, while the same percentage sees U.S. influence as a negative. A plurality of Ukrainians describes the European Union's influence in the region as a good thing. 

Eleven percent said U.S influence there has been neither bad nor good. Another 10 percent said it had been both bad and good.

The United States, along with the EU, has imposed sanctions on a number of Russian officials, after Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year. The administration has threatened further sanctions on the country’s economy if Russia interferes in Ukraine's May 25 elections. The United States has provided some nonlethal aid to the country as well as a $1 billion loan guarantee, but some Republicans have urged increased military support. 

Nearly 8 in 10 people in Ukraine think the country should remain united amid talks of future secession votes in the eastern part of the country, according to the poll. 

It found only 14 percent think some regions should be allowed to secede. More than 9 in 10 people in the western part of the country support continued unification, while 70 percent in the more ethnically Russian east feel the same. 

About 60 percent of Ukrainians think the elections will be fair.

At the same time, Russia's view of the United States has fallen to its lowest level since Pew began polling the country 12 years ago. Only 23 percent viewed the United States in a favorable light, dropping 28 points since last year. 

Russian confidence in President Vladimir Putin stands at 83 percent in the country. 

Putin on Wednesday said he was moving troops off the eastern border, after the United States and others had continuously called for the country to pull back. He also publicly opposed a secession vote scheduled Sunday in a region in eastern Ukraine. 

However, the White House said Wednesday there had been no indication that the estimated 40,000 Russian troops had pulled back. And the Interfax news agency reported Thursday pro-Russian separatists had decided to go ahead with its secession referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk next week. 

The survey polled 1,000 randomly selected Russians and 1,659 Ukrainians.