Most Americans think the shooting down of MH17 is a threat to world peace, and the public say that Vladimir Putin is mostly to blame for the crisis in Ukraine

Most Americans say the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines 17 over separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine is a serious threat to world peace – but the perceived threat isn’t quite as high as it was more than 30 years ago, when a Soviet pilot shot down the Seoul-bound Korean Airlines 007 over the eastern Soviet Union. 

In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, more than eight in ten describe the shooting down of the plane over a part of Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists as a serious threat to world peace, but not quite half say it is a “very serious’ threat.   In 1983, nearly two in three described the shooting down of the Korean Airlines plane as a “very serious” threat.

Concern about the current threat is highest among women: 53% of them say the situation poses a very serious threat to world peace.  Just 38% of men say that.  Historically, women tend to worry more about war and the threat of violence.  Older adults are more worried than younger ones; Democrats are more worried than Republicans. 

But whatever their concern, Americans put responsibility for the situation today directly at the feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Nearly two in three say Putin bears all or most of the responsibility for the situation in Ukraine.  By comparison, few say that about President Obama. 

Putin consistently has scored poor grades with the American public, though many have allowed that he is a strong leader. In this week’s poll, just 12% have a favorable rating of him, with more than two-thirds unfavorable.  Putin’s favorable ratings match the already low ratings Americans gave him in early March, nearer the beginning of the Ukraine crisis and long before the Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down. 

Despite the destruction of the plane, Americans don’t see any responsibility for the U.S. in Ukraine.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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