There is little support for a significant U.S. role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict among Americans.
President Joe Biden has imposed new sanctions and threatens a more substantial response that may provoke an adverse reaction or retaliation from the Kremlin.
The president has acknowledged the increasing likelihood, however, that America itself will be affected by war in Eastern Europe, while still ruling out sending troops to Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a range of tools to use against the U.S., including cyberattacks on critical industries and infrastructure. Gas prices are also expected to rise, some say dramatically.
According to Biden, “Defending freedom will have costs for us as well, here at home. We need to be honest about that.”
Nevertheless, just 26% of respondents to a new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research say the United States should have a significant role in the conflict.
While 52% say the U.S. should have a minor role, 20% say we should have no role at all.
The poll’s findings are a stark reminder to Biden and the Democrats that Americans at the moment are more concerned with their personal finances than a foreign crisis likely to consume Washington in the coming weeks and months.
Administration supports Ukraine
The Biden administration argues that supporting Ukraine is tantamount to defending fundamentally American values while concentrating efforts to declassify intelligence findings.
Those reports have underscored the dangers it sees for Ukraine and the larger European region.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently stated that Americans may have different interpretations of a significant U.S. role and restated that the president would not send the United States military to Ukraine.
In contrast, troops have already deployed to nearby NATO member countries.
“We make national security decisions based on what’s best for our country’s national security, not on the latest polling,” said Psaki.
According to poll numbers, however, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to think that the U.S. should play a major role in the conflict than Republicans, at 32% to 22%.
The poll found that 53% say they’re extremely or very concerned that Russia poses a viable threat to the U.S. The number is up from 45% in August.
Congressional Representative Mike Quigley, D-Ill., who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, says the intelligence he has received on the situation in Ukraine “has been very, very good. Sadly, it’s been accurate.”
However, he also states that his constituents have been overwhelmingly vocal in their focus on the Covid-19 pandemic and health care, not the situation in Ukraine.
Russia’s most significant threats to Americans remains its ability to conduct cyber warfare.
Previous Russian cyber attacks have breached the servers of American government agencies and cut off services at hospitals. A ransomware attack by a Russia-based hacking group on the Colonial Pipeline temporarily shut down gas stations along the East Coast. Russia has also been accused of interfering in both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections.
The AP-NORC poll was conducted February 18-21 and included 1,289 adults and used a sample taken from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is crafted to represent the overall U.S. population. The sampling error margin for all respondents is minus or plus 3.7 percentage points.