Two-thirds of Americans support economic sanctions against Russia and Putin after Ukraine invasion

Linley SandersData Journalist
March 02, 2022, 9:05 PM GMT+0

In the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, the United States and its allies committed to economic sanctions against Russia that were designed to deter the country from its attack. As Russian troops continued to advance into Ukraine, additional sanctions were added to put increased pressure on Russia President Vladimir Putin.

The latest Economist/YouGov Poll — conducted after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began and before President Biden’s State of the Union message — shows that Americans approve of the current economic sanctions against Russia, and many would support additional penalties. Americans approve of the sanctions that have been placed on Russia by a margin of four to one (64% to 16%), with similar proportions of Democrats and Republicans approving of them.

A similar share of Americans (65%) approve of direct sanctions against Putin, with Democrats (73%) and Republicans (68%) aligned on this measure.

Though the current sanctions are supported by clear majorities, some Americans would support additional measures only if they did not increase the price of gas. While 67% of Americans say they would approve of the U.S imposing additional sanctions, that breaks down into two groups of sanction supporters with a crucial difference: 27% of Americans would approve of the sanctions only if they don’t cause gas prices in the U.S. to rise, while 40% say they would support more sanctions even if they resulted in higher gas prices.

While the sanctions have wide support, most Americans don’t expect the measures against Russia to work right away. Just 14% of Americans think the sanctions will work in under a month, while 41% say they will take between a month and a year. And 10% of Americans say economic sanctions will never work. Republicans (15%) are more likely than Democrats (5%) to say the sanctions will have no effect.

Democrats also are more optimistic than Republicans that economic sanctions by the U.S. and other countries could be enough to make Russia end its invasion of Ukraine. About three in 10 Americans (29%) believe economic sanctions could be enough to make Russia end its invasion of Ukraine – eventually. Even more (44%) are skeptical that sanctions can ever achieve that goal on their own.

As for other possible U.S. responses to the crisis, levels of American support increased for several options after the invasion. The following options saw an increase in the share of Americans who called them a “good idea” over the last week:

  • economic sanctions on Russia (57% to 65%)
  • sending financial aid to Ukraine (46% to 61%)
  • sending weapons to Ukraine (41% to 58%)
  • sending troops to NATO allies in Eastern Europe (44% to 51%)

Eachare now thought of as good ideas by a majority of Americans. These are all actions that have been taken by the U.S. since the invasion.

There has been little change in support for other possible actions: Last week, Americans also supported NATO membership for Ukraine (44% to 18%) by a margin similar to this week (48% to 18%). Most Americans continue to oppose sending U.S. troops to Ukraine to engage in combat.

There is some support for enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, without specifics for how enforcement would work. Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky has urged NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, but President Biden has said it will not happen because such a decision would put the U.S. “in the fight” against Russia. By a margin of more than two to one, (45% to 20%) Americans say the enforcement of a no-fly zone would be a good idea, while 35% are unsure.

Most Americans oppose meeting Russia’s demands to end the invasion. Even if the measures would end the invasion, only 7% of Americans would promise that Ukraine could never join NATO, just 16% would roll back NATO’s troop deployments in Eastern Europe, and only 9% would allow Russia more influence in areas once part of the former Soviet Union. Just 6% think it is a good idea to give Russia “whatever they want.”

One punishment most Americans appear to be happy to inflict on Russia is to keep the country out of international competitions — as FIFA announced would happen for the World Cup scheduled for later this year. By 64% to 17%, Americans do not want to allow Russia to compete in events such as the Olympics, the World Cup, and the Eurovision song contest.

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 26 and March 1, 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