Ukraine crisis pushes Putin's popularity among Russians to six-year high

The latest polls have given the Russian President an approval rating of  85 per cent

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The Independent Online

Vladimir Putin is known for his outlandish PR efforts but apparently all the Russian President needed to do to improve his popularity was annex Crimea.

According to Iran’s Press TV, his widely-condemned stance through the increasingly bloody Ukraine crisis has endeared him to the Russian public, pushing ratings to a six-year high.

The conflict seems to have succeeded where topless horse riding and "finding" ancient Greek jugs have failed in securing positive public opinion.

The results of the poll, conducted by the All-Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) earlier this month, showed that Mr Putin’s approval rating had increased from 82 per cent to 85 per cent since April, and by more than a third since the beginning of the year.

“Thus, this figure is virtually identical to the one recorded six years ago,” the poll said.

His United Russia party also did well, winning 60 per cent approval, up from just 41 per cent in January.

Political analysts in the country believe the results are closely tied to Russia’s controversial involvement in the Ukraine crisis.

The annexation of Crimea was widely condemned by the international community and called illegal by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of Nato.

Referendums in eastern Ukraine last week were dubbed a “criminal farce organised by Russia” and diplomatic relations have become less police as strained relationships with the West threaten to snap.

The US has imposed ever heavier sanctions on Russia and several world leaders have condemned its alleged support of separatist millitias.

In a statement last month, David Cameron, Barack Obama and counterparts from Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Canada expressed “deep concern at the continued efforts by separatists backed by Russia to destabilise eastern Ukraine”.

But however loudly the rest of the world clucks in disapproval, many Russians welcome any incursion as a step towards the post-Soviet “Greater Russia”.