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Poll: Public support for sending military assistance to Ukraine slips

According to Associated Press survey, those who favor providing weapons to Kyiv falls below 50 percent for first time.

Europe

As the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, support for providing weapons to Ukraine has dipped slightly below 50 percent for the first time, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Respondents who either “strongly” or “somewhat” support providing weapons to Kyiv dropped from 60 percent last May to 48 percent now. The change is especially notable among those who strongly favor sending weapons, which has slipped from 36 percent to 25 percent in that same timeframe. Consequently, the number of respondents who were strongly opposed to the question increased from 19 percent to 29 percent. Across all questions, the poll shows decreasing public support for imposing sanctions, accepting Ukrainian refugees, and sending government funds directly to Kyiv, though a majority of Americans remain in favor of the first two propositions. 

The poll, which surveyed 1,068 adults between January 26 and January 30, 2023, is the the fifth poll AP-NORC has conducted on Russia-Ukraine related questions since February 2022, but it is the first since last May.  

Democrats remain more committed to Ukraine than Republicans, with a majority of Democrats affirming their support of each of the questions, though the percentage in favor has decreased across the board. 

Republicans were more split on these questions, with a slight plurality supporting sending weapons (39 percent, to 37 percent opposed, with 22 percent answering “neither”), and a 58 percent majority opposing sending direct government funds. Most Republicans continued to support economic sanctions and accepting refugees. 

Overall, a steady half of the public wants the United States to play a “minor role” in the war. However, those clamoring for Washington to play a “major role” have shifted from 32 percent in May to 26 percent today, and those who want the United States to retreat to playing “no role” have increased from 19 to 24 percent. This was the only question that was also asked in March of last year, when 40 percent wanted Washington to play a major role, and only 13 percent believed it should play no role. 

Support has waned since the last AP-NORC poll was taken in May. Since then, the level and scope of U.S. financial support has steadily grown, with Washington sending Patriot missile systems, and recently agreeing to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks. The Republican Party has won a majority in the House in last November’s midterm elections, and GOP lawmakers have begun to express skepticism over ongoing support for Ukraine. 

Confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to handle the crisis is not especially high in either party. Forty percent of Democrats expressed “a great deal of” confidence in the president, with half of respondents having “only some” and the remaining nine percent saying that had “hardly any” confidence in Biden. Among Republicans, those numbers were two, 19, and 76 percent, respectively.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 6, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha]
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