MOSCOW (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin has seen his approval rating climb in Russia due to his strong stance on military intervention in Ukraine, several opinion polls show.
More than two out of three Russians (69 per cent of those interviewed), say they back Mr Putin's actions, a poll by the independent Levada agency found in late February after interviewing 1,603 people in 45 regions.
Mr Putin's approval ratings were almost as high as after his inauguration in 2012, Levada said. Just 30 per cent of Russians say they disapprove of Mr Putin's actions, down from 34 per cent last year, the Levada centre found.
The VTsIOM state polling agency, seen as close to the Kremlin, put Mr Putin's approval rating at 68 per cent, with 53 per cent of its respondents in early March saying the situation in Ukraine was the most important news event.
Mr Putin's rating was at a two-year high since his May 2012 inauguration, VTsIOM said.
Both polls were carried out before the ruble fell to record levels against the dollar and euro on "Black Monday" of March 3, however.
"Putin's level of popularity which is approaching that of May 2012, the date of his re-election for a third presidential term, could soar further since the Kremlin's offensive is continuing," said Alexei Levinson, a senior researcher at Levada.
"Putin successfully exploits the habits of paternalism. Russians have confidence in his interpretation of events in Russia and abroad," Mr Levinson told AFP.
The images of violence and chaos in Ukraine featured on Russian state media "make people value Putin's stability," political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko told Vedomosti business daily.
MR Putin, now 61, has almost never had an approval rating of less than 60 percent since he became president for the first time in 2000.