How Americans Distrusted, Trusted, and Then Distrusted Russia Again

Bolshevik Revolution

The history between the United States is spotted with a lot of distrust and anxiety. One of the last peaceful moments between the two countries was during the First World War, when Russia was headed by Czar Nicholas II.

As Russia battled for the first three years of its involvement, the empire eventually collapsed. The collapse gave way to revolution, which saw the murderous tactics of the Bolsheviks who sought to ascend to power and pave the way for a communist utopia. Despite military support from the United States and allied powers, the Bolsheviks were successful in murdering the royal family and seizing control of the government.

Cold War

The United States did recognize the Soviet Union, and the two enjoyed somewhat friendly relations under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, especially during World War II. While the exact dates of the Cold War are disputed, it is generally accepted that it began during the first announcement of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 and the end marked the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Favorability and Trust

In 1991, two-thirds of Americans reportedly held the new Russia in a favorable light, which is where Americans are currently with Ukraine, both before and after the invasion.

Sixteen years after the Cold War, both Americans and Russians generally held favorable views of each other. In 2007, 44% of Americans viewed Russia favorably, while 41% of Russians viewed America favorably, according to Pew Research. But these numbers began to drop for both countries during the second term of the Obama administration.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, American favorability of Russia plummeted from 37% to 19%. In contrast, Russians viewed America negatively as well, dropping from 51% to 15%.

Now, with Russia’s “special military campaign” in Ukraine, Americans’ favorability is lower than ever before, according to a recent survey conducted by Gallup. A whopping 85% of Americans are in disfavor with Russia in 2022, nearly 10 years after the country’s annexation of Crimea.

America’s attitude toward Russia began to noticeably decline in recent years after the 2016 election when Russia was accused of interfering on behalf of now-former President Donald Trump.

Both countries’ views toward each other’s president also remain low. Only 21% of Americans have confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin is capable of doing the “right thing,” while Russians’ confidence is even lower at 19%.