Pollsters call it the “rally effect.” In a crisis, people tend instinctively, if abstractly, to support their leaders. The signature example being that, when the Bay of Pigs invasion ended in failure, John F. Kennedy’s poll numbers went up.
So it is not surprising, perhaps, that Vladimir Putin is getting a boost from his strong-arming of the Ukraine. As Olga Razumovskaya of the Wall Street Journal reports:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval rating has soared to a three-year high in the past month, a period that has included the winter Olympics in Sochi and the political crisis in Ukraine, Russian state pollster VTsIOM said Thursday. The Russian president's approval rating has gained 9.7 percentage points to reach 71.6% since mid-February, well above the average of above 60% over the past several years, the pollster said.”