Few Americans Think The U.S. Has An Obligation To Defend Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto's news conference after talks at a re
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto's news conference after talks at a residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia, in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. Putin met with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto here on Friday to discuss interaction between the two countries, as well as international problems, first of all, the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service reported. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Amid increasingly hostile Russian actions, less than one-third of Americans think the United States should defend Ukraine against actual Russian troops, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows.

According to the survey, only 29 percent of Americans think the U.S. has a responsibility to defend Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion, while 38 percent think it does not. Another 33 percent said they're not sure.

From the Ukrainian president's perspective, a Russian invasion has already occurred, although Russia has denied that its actions constitute an invasion. U.S. officials have appeared to studiously avoid using that term to describe what's happening there.

In the new poll, Democrats (by 38 percent to 21 percent) and independents (40 percent to 28 percent) were more likely to say that the U.S. does not have an obligation to defend Ukraine than that it does. A narrow plurality of Republicans (39 percent to 35 percent) said the U.S. does bear that responsibility.

The view that the U.S. has any obligation to help Ukraine has risen in recent months. In another HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in March, only 18 percent said the U.S. has a responsibility to defend that country, while 46 percent said it does not.

Although the latest poll shows relatively small support for an active defense of Ukraine, that doesn't mean most Americans want to back out of the conflict entirely. Fifty-eight percent said they support additional economic sanctions against Russia, while only 16 percent said they do not. Sixty-four percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 66 percent of Republicans said they support strengthening sanctions.

Thirty-six percent of Americans said they think the U.S. reaction to Russia's actions so far has not been tough enough, while 27 percent said it has been about right and 5 percent said it has been too tough.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Aug. 23-25 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.



Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine