Americans support giving weapons to Ukraine — but that support declines with Russia's threats

Linley SandersData Journalist
December 21, 2022, 7:30 PM GMT+0

American sympathies have been with Ukraine in its battle against Russia since Russia invaded in February — but Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky will be asking for more than sympathy in his in-person address to Congress that is scheduled for Wednesday night. President Joe Biden is expected to announce during Zelensky's visit that the United States will give Ukraine the Patriot missile defense system, but there is opposition among Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll — with slightly more opposed to giving money than to giving weapons.

About half of Americans support the U.S. continuing to give weapons (53%) to Ukraine and nearly as many support continuing to give money (48%). One-third of Americans (31%) do not think the U.S. should give any more financial assistance and 25% do not want any more weapons given to Ukraine. Republicans are more likely to support than oppose giving Ukraine more weapons (50% vs. 31%) but are split on whether to continue providing funds (39% vs. 42%). Large majorities of Democrats support continuing to offer each to Ukraine, and 62% support continuing to give both money and weapons; just 35% of Republicans agree.

Americans are more likely to support than oppose the United States providing Ukraine with the Patriot missile defense system that it requested (47% support, 29% oppose) when asked about it generally, but a mention of Russia’s threat of “unpredictable consequences” for the support makes Americans less sure this is a good idea. Barely more Americans (41%) support sending the Patriot to Ukraine than oppose it (37%) after being told of the Russian threat.

There is a bigger change in Democrats' opinion: When told about the threat from Russia, Democrats' support drops from 61% to 50%. Republicans' support remains more steady, with a marginal drop from 45% to 42%.

Some Americans also are warier of the possibility of Ukraine using weapons to strike Russian military targets near Moscow, rather than in Russia generally. Again the difference in support is greater among Democrats than among Republicans.

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on December 17 - 20, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty Images (Alexey Furman)