Ukraine Crisis: Poll shows American, British & Canadian appetite for economic sanctions high

Ukraine Crisis: Poll shows American, British & Canadian appetite for economic sanctions high

May 6, 2014 – A survey of American, British and Canadian adults show the majority have little desire to involve their countries in a military response to the Ukraine-Russia crisis while economic sanctions and diplomatic actions against Russia meet with higher levels of support.

The three country poll asked respondents their opinions on the threat level the conflict in Ukraine poses to regional and international peace and stability, their levels of satisfaction with their own governments’ response to the crisis, and which actions, if any, they felt Western allies should take as a result of the situation.

Top Findings:

  • 12 per cent of all respondents believe NATO-led military action is the most appropriate response to the crisis should it continue – with Canadians holding this view two-to-one over Britons (15% to 8%). 14 per cent of American respondents said a NATO-led military intervention was the best way to go. 
  • About one-fifth (22%) of all respondents say their country should stay out of the conflict altogether, with Britons (26%) and Americans (24%) most inclined to feel this way and Canadians least inclined (15%) 
  • About as many (22%) favour the application of diplomatic pressure. Support for this is most anemic in the US (19%)
  • The combination of diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions (either limited or major) on Russia are felt to be the best response to the crisis – the choice 66% of respondents

Other key findings: 

  • A majority of respondents report awareness on this issue, with just over half of all respondents (55%) say they are following events in Ukraine either closely or very closely. The remainder (36%) say they are following the issue, but not that closely, and fewer than one-in-ten (9%) saying they aren’t following the situation at all.
  • Half of Americans (52%) view the Ukraine-Russia situation as either a very serious or serious threat to global peace and security, compared to 44 per cent feeling this way in the UK (geographically much closer to the conflict zone) and the 47 per cent in Canada.
  • Majorities in each country (70% in Canada, 60% in the US and UK) say the situation is a very serious or serious threat to stability in Eastern Europe.
  • Canadians are most hawkish in regards to the best response to the situation in Ukraine, and also the most satisfied with their own government’s response to the crisis, with 62 per cent saying the reaction of the federal government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is “about right”. Majorities is the US and the UK say the same about their national governments’ response (53% and 56% respectively).

US Findings: 

By far, Americans are most split along political lines in their views on the Obama administration’s response to the crisis in Ukraine.

In the case of past Obama voters, 28 per cent say his administration has been too soft in its response, while 66 per cent say the response has been just right. For those who cast a ballot for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, 59 per cent believe the White House reaction to the crisis in Ukraine has been too soft, while 34 per cent say it has been just right.

Past Republican voters are also most polarized among themselves on what to do about the situation. While they are twice as supportive of NATO-led military action as past Democrat voters (19% to 10%), past Republicans are also slightly more inclined to stay out of the conflict than past Democrats (23% to 20%). 

UK Findings:

About two-in-five (37%) respondents who voted for the Labour party in 2010 say the Conservative government under Prime Minister David Cameron has been too soft in its response to the Ukraine crisis. A third (34%) of past Conservative voters say the same, along with 38 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters.

But while voters in all three parties call for a harder line from Cameron, past Labour voters are also most inclined to stay out of the conflict altogether (28% compared to 21% of past Conservative voters and 21% of past Liberal Democrats).

Further, they are least inclined (7%) to say a military response is most appropriate – although support for NATO-led military intervention is anemic across all party lines – and least in favour of either limited or major economic sanctions against Russia (37% among past Labour voters compared to 45% among past Conservative voters and 43% among past Liberal Democrats). 

Canadian Findings: 

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada’s approach on foreign policy has taken on a more hawkish tone than that of past Conservative and Liberal governments. National politics in Canada also reflect a very loyal support base for Harper and the current Conservative government, which may go some way to explaining why Canadians are most amenable – when compared to Britons and Americans – to NATO-led military intervention should the Ukraine crisis continue.

As with the UK results, past party support does appear to affect opinion. The majority (70%) of past Conservative voters say the federal government’s response to the crisis has been “about right”, compared to half (54%) of past Liberal voters and 57 per cent of past NDP voters.

One third of past Liberal Party voters in Canada (33%) say the Harper government’s reaction to the crisis has been too soft, compared to one-quarter (24%) of past Conservative voters and 29 per cent of past New Democratic Party voters.

However, while more Liberal supporters say the government’s response has been too soft, they are not more inclined than other parties to consider military intervention (see tables on following pages), nor are they more inclined than past Conservative voters to apply economic sanctions (58% compared to 52% respectively).

Click here for detailed results, charts, tables and methodology


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