Putin trusted over Trump

Vladimir Putin is more trusted than Donald Trump to do the right thing for the world among citizens of numerous U.S. allies, including Japan, South Korea and seven European NATO members, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Both leaders scored poorly overall in the poll by the respected Pew Research Center. But Trump's scores in particular point to a stunningly high level of international public distrust in the American president, a position colloquially described as "leader of the free world" as many smaller countries rely on the United States for support and defence.

The United States is obligated to defend all NATO countries under the alliance's treaty, which was initially aimed at the Soviet Union. The U.S. is also obliged to defend Japan and South Korea, which are threatened by North Korea, under separate defence treaties.

In Greece, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, France, Italy and Spain, more people had confidence in the Russian president than in his U.S. counterpart "to do the right thing regarding world affairs," according to the poll.

That Trump is so distrusted by the populations of countries historically reliant on the United States for their defence points to the strains with U.S. allies caused by his often erratic international pronouncements. These have included questioning the validity and effectiveness of NATO, delaying affirmation of the alliance's mutual defence pact, musing about more countries having nuclear weapons and, most recently, threatening "fire and fury" against North Korea if it persists in threatening the United States.

Trump scored higher than Putin in Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Poland, according to the survey, which Pew said was conducted in 37 countries earlier this year. Trump also led among non-NATO U.S. allies Australia and the Philippines, as well as in Israel, where he was far more trusted than Putin.

"Although confidence in Putin's handling of foreign affairs is generally low, in many countries he is more trusted than American President Donald Trump," the survey found.

Globally, 60 per cent of respondents said they lack confidence in Putin, with European nations most skeptical.

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