Even after weeks of headlines about Ukraine, and the threat of a Russian invasion, many Americans know very little about Ukraine: 59% have no opinion of Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, and 28% aren’t sure whether Ukraine is a friend or enemy, compared to 15% who aren’t sure about Russia.
But Americans do know they don’t like Russia. Nearly three in four Americans say they regard Russia as a serious threat to the U.S., and 60% say the same about Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Putin is also seen very unfavorably by Americans: Just 9% view him favorably, 6% say he is honest and trustworthy — but 57% see him as a strong leader, underscoring the threat many see in him. By 58% to 6%, Americans’ sympathies in this conflict are with Ukraine, rather than with Russia (21% say “neither”).
So there is a great deal that many Americans say they would do with the aim of helping Ukraine, notably by allowing it to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, by sending it financial aid, and by placing economic sanctions on Russia. Far more Americans call each of those a good idea than call it a bad idea. But Americans are less supportive of the U.S. becoming involved militarily – either by sending weapons to Ukraine or by sending U.S. troops, especially if it would involve fighting Russian soldiers (12% call it a good idea, 56% a bad idea).
Would Americans back other measures if they would prevent war? Not allowing Russia greater influence in former Soviet countries: Just 6% call that a good idea, even if it would prevent Russia from invading Ukraine; 64% call it a bad idea. Other ideas also get little support even if they’d prevent an invasion: Just 8% call it a good idea under those circumstances to grant Russia financial aid in return for a promise not to invade Ukraine, and just 13% see it as a good idea to agree to Russia’s demand to never allow Ukraine to join NATO.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between January 29 - February 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.