Support for Ukraine in US still high, but slowly fading: survey

Activists hold a giant Ukrainian flag during an event "Ukraine united" in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. The action symbolises the unity of the Ukrainian people in the struggle for the independence of Ukraine. The 430-meter long flag connected both sides of Dnipro river. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)
(AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

A majority of Americans still support sending military aid to Ukraine, but that majority is thinning, according to new polling from global research firm Ipsos. 

54 percent of Americans support sending weapons to Ukraine, down from 59 percent last spring, according to the new survey. 

That rate is still higher than the average opinion of Western countries in the poll — members of the European Union, NATO and Australia — which stayed the same at 48 percent since the beginning of the war. 

The Ipsos poll surveyed 19,000 people from 23 countries around the world in late November and early December last year.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova spoke at the Army and Navy Club on Tuesday to discuss the poll and international support for Ukraine’s war effort.

“This is an existential war not only for Ukraine,” Markarova said. “We have to actually not think about the next election … but think in terms of how to avoid a catastrophe.”

Though the U.S. and E.U. have committed billions worth of weapons to Ukraine since the war began 11 months ago, Kyiv has kept up pressure for even heavier weapons, particularly as it braces for a renewed Russian offensive in the coming months. 

Ukraine’s demands for heavy tanks have caused tension among its Western allies in recent weeks; however, a standoff between the U.S. and Germany appears to be nearly resolved, with reports Tuesday that both countries are preparing to commit tanks. 

“We’re working with our partners here on all [military] capabilities,” Markarova said. “So whatever our partners are able to provide us that can be scalable, that we can use effectively on the battlefield, we are grateful.”

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced nearly $4 billion in military aid for the conflict, the latest in a series of billion-dollar packages that it says proves its commitment to support Ukraine until the war is won. 

However, the polling shows that some Ukraine fatigue is being felt in America and other allied countries. 

Support for Ukrainian refugees has slid on average globally. While most people still support helping refugees — 66 percent of respondents globally and in the U.S. — those rates have fallen by 7 and 6 percent, respectively, in the last year.

“In the U.S., there is tepid support for the status quo,” said Clifford Young, president of U.S. public affairs at Ipsos. “That status quo is the United States helping Ukraine economically and with military material, but not with boots on the ground.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also becoming increasingly partisan. House Republicans have cast doubts on the future of U.S. support for Ukraine, especially economic and humanitarian aid. Polling appears to show that that sentiment is felt among some Republican voters as well.

“There is attenuation of support … especially among Republicans,” Young said.

Global inflation and economic uncertainty is also driving skepticism about continued support for Ukraine, the polling found. A majority of respondents globally agreed that, “Given the current economic crisis, [their country] cannot afford to lend financial support to Ukraine,” including 59 percent of Americans. 

However, oil and gas sanctions against Russia from European countries remain popular despite their impact on rising heating gas prices this winter. 

Non-economic sanctions are also popular. Two-thirds of global respondents said that Russian athletes should continue to be barred from international competition, with 76 percent of Americans agreeing.

Support for Ukraine militarily and economically is strongest in the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Poland, and weakest in Hungary, India and Thailand, the poll found. Overall, support was weaker in Latin America and Asia than in North America and Europe.

Tags Oksana Markarova Russia-Ukraine war
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