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Survey: Putin more trustworthy than Trump, say Germans, other US allies

People in a number of US-allied nations trust Vladimir Putin more than Donald Trump when it comes to handling foreign affairs, according to a new survey. The results show a significant lack of confidence in both leaders.

The research, published by the Pew Research Center, aimed to measure global perceptions of Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

The study found that only one in four people in the 37 countries surveyed have confidence in the Russian president to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. Respondents in Europe were the most critical, with around 78 percent expressing a lack of trust in his leadership.

The survey noted, however, that "although confidence in Putin's handling of foreign affairs is generally low, in many countries he is more trusted than American President Donald Trump."

Not much confidence in Trump

Respondents in US allies such as Japan, South Korea and seven European NATO members - Greece, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, France, Italy and Spain - which have historically relied on the US for military support and defense, all expressed more confidence in Putin.

One reason for this may be the erratic comments Trump has made on world issues since he entered office in January - questioning the validity and effectiveness of NATO, delaying affirmation of the alliance's mutual defense pact, and accusing members of not pulling their weight.

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The disparity in favor of Putin over Trump was most stark in Greece and Germany, where he outscored the US president by 31 and 14 points, respectively. In Germany, around a quarter of respondents said they had confidence in Putin, while only 11 percent said the same of Trump.

But not all NATO members' citizens found Putin a more trustworthy leader. Trump got higher scores in Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Poland, according to the survey. He was also the more favorable option for non-NATO allies Australia and the Philippines, as well as Israel, where he outscored Putin by a whopping 29 points.

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Russia - a threat?

Despite holding a generally dim view of Putin's approach to foreign policy, few respondents thought of Russia as a security risk. Globally, 31 percent of people described Russia's power and influence as a major threat to their country - last place on a list that included the "Islamic State" extremist group, climate change and international cyberattacks. The same number thought of China as a threat, while 35 percent saw America's influence as dangerous.

Critical opinions of Russia were most widespread in the United States and Europe, with many people raising concerns about the Russian government's treatment of civil liberties and democracy. Only Vietnam (83 percent), Greece (64 percent) and the Philippines (55 percent) had a majority of respondents expressing a favorable opinion. Views were more varied across the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The results come from Pew's Spring 2017 Global Attitudes Survey, which interviewed 40,951 randomly selected adults in 37 countries around the world between February and May.

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