WASHINGTON (AP) – According to a new poll, Americans have little support for the important role of the United States in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, even as President Joe Biden imposes new sanctions and threatens a more decisive response that could provoke a rebuff from Moscow.
Biden acknowledged the growing likelihood that the war in Eastern Europe would affect Americans, although he ruled out sending troops to Ukraine. US gas prices may rise in the short term. And Russian President Vladimir Putin has a number of tools he can use against the United States, including cyberattacks affecting critical infrastructure and industries.
“Protecting freedom will also have costs for us, here at home,” Biden said Tuesday. “We have to be honest on this.”
Only 26% say the U.S. should play a major role in the conflict, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC’s Public Relations Research Center. Fifty-two percent speak of a secondary role; 20% say nothing.
The findings are a reminder to Biden and his fellow Democrats that while the crisis could engulf Washington in the coming months, problems with pocket booklets are likely to become a higher priority for voters heading to the by-elections. The December AP-NORC poll found that Americans are particularly focused on economic issues, including rising inflation.
The Biden administration has argued that Ukraine’s support is a defense of fundamental American values, and has made concerted efforts to declassify intelligence findings, highlighting the danger it sees for Ukraine and the European region as a whole. But the poll shows widespread public skepticism about American intelligence.
Democrats more often than Republicans believe the U.S. should play a major role in the conflict, from 32% to 22%. Overall, the poll shows that 43% of Americans now approve of Biden’s attitude toward U.S. relations with Russia, up from 49% last June.
Despite a clear reluctance to take a serious part in the conflict, Americans hardly look at Russia through rose-tinted glasses. The poll shows that 53% say they are very, very concerned that Russia’s influence around the world poses a threat to the US, which increased from 45% in August 2021.
Jennifer Rau, a 51-year-old mother of three foster teens living on the south side of Chicago, said she listens to local public radio for her world news. But in recent days, when the news turned to Russia and Ukraine, she began to turn it off.
“I am so disappointed. That’s enough. We were bombed, ”Rau said. “Chicago has other stories to cover.”
Rau is a politically independent person who voted for Biden. But she believes the U.S. is getting involved in foreign wars to make money. She is more concerned about the rise in crime in Chicago, the proliferation of weapons and the systemic racism that affects her three children, who are Latinos.
“I just feel like there’s a war going on in the United States every day in Chicago,” she said. “And it’s really scary. And it seems to me that no one is helping us. “
Edward Eller, a 67-year-old retiree from Shady Valley, Tennessee, said the White House needs to focus on lowering oil prices.
“They want to send millions of our dollars to end a war we have nothing to do with,” he said. “I’m sorry they’re involved in the mess, but that’s not our problem.”
The poll was conducted from Friday to Monday during a period of rapid escalation of tensions, culminating in Putin’s recognition of the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, which in the West is widely seen as a step towards a wider war. Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have been involved in fighting since 2014, killing 14,000 people.
Asked on Tuesday why people in the United States should donate to the conflict, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “It’s about upholding American values.”
“We have repeatedly throughout history been a world leader in uniting support for any effort to seize territory in another country,” she said.
Russia has recruited at least 150,000 troops from three sides of Ukraine and continues to build the bridges, camps and logistics needed for the long invasion. US officials believe that Putin could attack Ukraine at any time. A full-scale war in Ukraine could result in thousands of deaths and large numbers of refugees fleeing to the United States or other European countries.
The United States imposed sanctions on Russian banks and oligarchs this week.
The White House has increasingly warned against the Russian invasion, trying to persuade Putin to abandon it. He declassified the positions of Russian troops and detailed statements about conspiracies with the “bogus flag”, which could lead to a military attack on Ukraine.
However, the poll shows that Americans remain skeptical of the US intelligence community. Only 23% said they “trust” the security services. Another 52% say they have some confidence, and 24% – almost none.
U.S. MP Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, says the intelligence he received about Ukraine “was very, very good. Unfortunately, that was true. ” But he often hears voters who are not interested in Ukraine and are more focused on health and the coronavirus pandemic.
Over time, Quigley said, he developed comments on why Ukraine is important to the United States: its role as a strategic ally and “sovereign democratic nation on Putin’s doorstep,” and how a new war could hit already-disrupted export supply chains. from Russia and Ukraine.
Among Russia’s biggest threats to Americans is its ability to wage cyberwar. Earlier cyberattacks involving Russia have cut off hospital services and hacked into servers of U.S. government agencies. An attack by ransomware on Colonial Pipeline, linked to a Russian hacker group, has temporarily shut down gas stations on the east coast. Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
“I think it’s an incredibly difficult time to report because of everything else that tops the list of things that concern Americans. It’s hard to give up COVID, inflation, security issues, “Quigley said.” But you have to try. “
The AP-NORC survey, which involved 1,289 adults, was conducted Feb. 18-21 using a sample taken from the AmeriSpeak panel, based on the NORC probability, which is designed to represent the U.S. population. The tolerance of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Associated Press reporter Zick J. Miller contributed to this report.