The United States may be Germany's No. 1 ally, but two-thirds of Germans think that the US president is more dangerous than his Russian counterpart. That's not surprising when you look at Germany's political priorities.
When asked which world leader was the greater threat to world security, 64 percent of respondents chose US President Donald Trump over his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. That's according to a YouGov poll published on the eve of Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki.
And the German antipathy toward Trump doesn't end there: 56 percent of respondents thought that Putin was more competent than Trump, with only 5 percent preferring the latter on that score. Thirty-six percent of Germans find Putin more likable than Trump, while 6 percent say the opposite — although most respondents refused to indicate a preference on that question.
And, perhaps most surprisingly, 44 percent said Putin was more powerful than Trump, compared with only 29 percent who thought the US president has more power.
German conservatives share the general public's dislike of Trump. People who voted for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) also found Putin more likable, competent and powerful than the US president by margins similar to respondents as a whole. In fact, conservative voters were slightly more likely (66 percent) to class Trump as the bigger threat than people overall in the poll.
German Foreign Minister: Remember who your friends are
In an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had a warning for the US president.
"Dialogue requires clarity, and President Trump's system of coordinates lacks clarity," Maas said. "Anyone who snubs his partners risks being the big loser in the end. One-sided deals to the detriment of America's own partners ultimately hurt the US, too."
But Maas also said the bilateral summit could make the world more peaceful.
"It would be a step forward if this meeting also produced some impulses for nuclear disarmament," Maas said.
On the one hand, Germans fear that Trump's and Putin's alpha male tendencies could collide, ratcheting up tensions between the world's two greatest military powers. On the other, they're perhaps even more afraid that Trump and Putin might be too much on the same page.