A vast majority of Utahns continue to closely follow the Russian attack on Ukraine, and just under half don’t think the United States is doing enough to respond in the ongoing war.
A new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll also found 57% of residents in the state disapprove of how President Joe Biden is handling the situation, while only 38% approve.
“He does not seem to be able to galvanize the public,” said Amos Guiora, a professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law and expert on international relations.
In an unscripted moment in response to a reporter’s question, Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” last month, a shift from the administration’s previous stance. While the White House didn’t walk back the comment, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president was speaking from the heart.
Guiora said any hedging or backtracking isn’t helpful in casting Biden as a strong figure, adding that the president’s cautiousness is perceived as weakness.
“If the president of the United States wants to call Putin a war criminal, let him call him a war criminal. He’s right. He’s a war criminal,” Guiora said. “I think the muddling of the message is not helpful for the president’s cause.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the U.S. has committed $13.6 billion in military, humanitarian and economic aid to help Ukraine defend itself against the unprovoked Russian invasion, according to the State Department.
As the war enters its third month, the Biden administration last week promised $800 million more in weapons for Ukraine, including Stinger anti-aircraft systems and Javelin and light anti-armor weapons and AT-4 anti-armor systems. The package also includes grenade launchers, rifles, pistols, machine guns and shotguns. The first shipment arrived Sunday at Ukraine’s border.
The Biden administration has imposed economic sanctions on Russia and cut off Russian oil imports.
The U.S. has provided nearly $653 million in humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities in the region since Russia first invaded Ukraine eight years ago, including nearly $302 million this year, the State Department said. Biden has also committed that the U.S. would take up 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has continued to call for more weapons from the U.S. as Russia shifted its offensive to the eastern part of the beleaguered nation. Zelenskyy has pleaded with Congress to send fighter jets and create a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Utahns have donated thousands of pounds of goods for refugees fleeing the war-ravaged country, and some have ventured to Ukraine to offer help on the ground.
The poll found 49% of Utahns don’t think the U.S. is doing enough to respond to the war on Ukraine, while 37% say the country is doing enough. Also, 79% of survey respondents are very or somewhat closely following the war.
Dan Jones & Associates conducted the poll of 804 Utah registered Utah voters April 5-12. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
Broken out along political party lines, 30% of those who identified themselves as Republicans say the U.S. is doing enough, while 60% say it is not. Democrats were just the opposite, with 60% saying the U.S. doing enough to respond and 26% saying not enough.
The survey also showed that older Utahns tended to think the U.S. wasn’t doing enough compared to younger residents. Older people, too, are following the war more closely than
younger people, according to the poll.
“What is doing enough? Send special forces into Moscow to try to whack Putin? I don’t think that’s such a great idea. Send American troops to target particular cities in Ukraine?” Guiora said.
“I want to know how many of them have a son or daughter in harm’s way,” he said. “It’s so easy to sit on your back porch and pontificate away when it’s somebody else’s kid.”
A nationwide CBS News/YouGov survey earlier this month found strong support for sending Ukraine more weapons and increased sanctions against Russia as atrocities continue to unfold. In addition, nearly two-thirds of those polled favored sending U.S. troops to protect NATO allies.
That poll also shows 55% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of Russia and Ukraine, while 45% approve.