U.S. Perception of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine appears to have no end in sight. As the war approaches its ninth month, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been killed. One-fourth of Ukraine’s total population is displaced, and several towns, cities, and villages have been destroyed. Meanwhile, over 70,000 Russian soldiers have died. Despite this devastation, the invasion continues.
When the war began, the media engaged in analyzing each and every development. Ukraine made the front page of every newspaper, and routine segments of popular talk shows were devoted to the war.
But as the war continues, its coverage has slowly been overcome by other issues. For example, in the United States, the rising costs of food and gas, inflation, and the possibility of a recession have taken precedence over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many Americans also shifted attention to the midterm elections.
Nonetheless, recent polls show that Ukraine is still very much supported by most American government officials, politicians, and pundits. The American public also heavily supports it.
Sampling Public Opinion
According to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans surveyed in May 2022 were extremely concerned about the possibility of a Ukrainian defeat. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they were somewhat concerned that Russia could potentially take over Ukraine. Similarly, 31 percent of Americans believed that the United States was not doing enough to aid Ukraine, while 35 percent believed that the United States was doing just enough.
As the war has progressed, however, the number of concerned Americans has decreased. In September 2022, only 38 percent of Americans surveyed were extremely concerned about the possibility that Ukraine could lose the war—a seventeen percentage point decrease from May. In addition, 18 percent of respondents believed the United States was not doing enough to aid Ukraine, a decrease of thirteen percentage points from May 2022.
While the decrease in American concern might be alarming, there is a larger story to be told. In the early months of the war, the Russians gained ground on three fronts in Ukraine. Russia had taken the southern province of Kherson, was launching an invasion in the north through Sumy, and was expanding its hold on the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine. But as the international community began to pile more stringent sanctions on Russia and provide greater assistance to Ukraine, the Ukrainians were able to launch a successful counteroffensive.
Over the summer months, the Ukrainians forced the Russians out of northern Ukraine. Ukraine reclaimed all of the occupied territory in the north, thus successfully nullifying one of Russia’s fronts in the war. Since then, Ukraine has reclaimed territory in eastern and southern Ukraine. The major eastern province of Kharkiv was successfully defended, and there are rumors Ukrainian forces may soon reclaim Kherson before the winter months.
It is possible that concern within America has decreased not because of a lack of interest in the war. Rather, it may be because Americans are confident Ukraine will win. (The decrease in the figures between May and September was not specified in the Pew Center poll.)
“Whatever It Takes, as Long as It Takes”
This theory is supported by other polling centers and news outlets. According to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland in October 2022, 60 percent of individuals surveyed stated that they were prepared to “pay high energy costs to help Ukraine.” In the same poll, 48 percent of respondents stated that Russia was losing the war.
Other organizations and news outlets, such as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Reuters, and The Hill, have reported similar findings, stating that the majority of Americans were ready to continue aiding Ukraine. In light of the findings of these various polls and their differing sample sizes and populations surveyed, it is possible to suggest that the United States has a consensus on Ukraine: Americans believe their country should continue to do whatever it takes to help Ukraine in its time of need. Americans are also committed to helping Ukraine as long as it takes.
A recent Gallup Poll best showed this position. According to the poll results, 66 percent of Americans support Ukraine in reclaiming its lost territory, even if that means a prolonged war with Russia. In the same survey, 26 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents, and 44 percent of Democrats surveyed stated the United States was providing the right amount of aid to Ukraine. An additional 30 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents, and 46 percent of Democrats believed the United States was not doing enough for Ukraine. In other words, 56 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents, and 90 percent of Democrats believed that the United States should continue providing aid to Ukraine.
Overall, numerous polls and news outlets throughout the United States have surveyed the American public to try to understand society’s opinion about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite the diverse interests and backgrounds of the participants, most Americans still strongly support this Eastern European state. The polling figures suggest that the United States is ready to help Ukraine win its war until the bitter end, no matter the costs. This bodes well for Ukraine.
The opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author and do not reflect the views of the Kennan Institute.
See our newest content first.
Subscribe to receive the latest analysis from Focus Ukraine.
About the Author
The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange. Read more