Americans are aware of Russia’s troop presence near Ukraine and many expect an invasion

Linley SandersData Journalist
February 18, 2022, 8:53 PM GMT+0

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said that there was “every indication” that Russia could invade Ukraine in the “next several days,” following weeks of Russian troops gathering on the border of Ukraine.

Such warnings from the Biden administration are well-aligned with what many Americans have been expecting. The latest Economist/YouGov poll, conducted February 12 - 15, indicates that Americans are aware of the Russian troop presence and that nearly half (45%) say that Russia is likely to invade Ukraine. The question for most Americans who have an opinion either way is not whether Russia will invade Ukraine, but when.

By three to one (45% to 16%), Americans believe that Russia will invade Ukraine — the rest are unsure — and two-thirds of people who expect an invasion (67%) believe it will happen within the next month. Republicans (by 53% to 14%) and Democrats (48% to 12%) tend to believe an invasion will happen, though many are still uncertain.

As troops gathered along the Ukraine-Russia border, Russian officials called on member states in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to promise that the organization would not consider admitting Ukraine as a member. By nearly three to one (43% to 15%), Americans say it would be a bad idea, not a good idea, to promise Russia that Ukraine will never join NATO, even if that would prevent Russia from invading Ukraine.

More Americans this week regard Russia as “an immediate and serious threat” to the U.S than did last week. Today, 39% say that, up six points in the last week from 33%.

Just one-third of Americans (34%) think what happens in Ukraine affects the U.S. “a lot,” but more than half (52%) say what happens in Russia affects the U.S. “a lot.” That belief is even higher among older Americans – those 65 and older, who lived through a few decades of the Cold War and the nuclear threat from the Soviet Union. Three-quarters of Americans ages 65 and up (75%) say what happens in Russia affects the U.S. “a lot.”

Related: Americans want to support Ukraine, but not with U.S. troops

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between February 12 and February 15, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty