A majority of Utahns don’t approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began over a year ago.

That’s according to the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll, which shows that only 13% of registered Utah voters surveyed strongly approve of Biden’s handling of the conflict, while 27% somewhat approve.

Meanwhile, 36% strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance, 17% somewhat disapprove, and the remaining 8% were unsure.

Specifically, 70% of very conservative voters strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance while only 6% of very liberal voters strongly disapprove, mirroring the partisan attitudes that have been playing out in Congress.

In March, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s invitation to visit Kyiv, as the GOP pushes back on aid being dispersed to Ukraine.

“Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? So, from that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN. “I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it. And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything.”

Marjorie Castle, a political science professor at the University of Utah, has not seen a “misstep” in Biden’s foreign policy, since the administration helped unite NATO and create a larger European Alliance in response to the war, she told the Deseret News.

Under Biden, with some credit to Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO has, in fact, become stronger — Finland recently became a part of the alliance and other countries also have begun to show an interest in membership, Castle said.

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“But I haven’t seen any actual claims of missteps from U.S. diplomacy in this regard. The criticism seems to be vague statements of giving Ukraine a ‘blank check,’ which is simply not true,” Castle said.

The survey, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, polled 801 registered voters from March 14-22. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

What do Utah voters think about military aid to Ukraine?

Some GOP members, like McCarthy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have opposed aiding Ukraine, but the issue is of national importance for many Republicans, said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox during a meeting of the National Governors Association, which virtually hosted Zelenskyy on Tuesday, as the Deseret News reported.

“By and large, there is still support for Ukraine. The extent of that support is always up for debate. But I believe … that this is a threat that is not just to Ukraine, but a threat that could spread to our other European allies, our NATO allies, which would then lead us into a much darker and more dangerous place,” Cox said. 

The poll asked registered voters if the U.S. is doing enough to respond to the war — to which 62% said yes, 24% said no, and 14% remained unsure.

The Biden administration recently directed more funding into Ukraine — a total of $1 billion for humanitarian assistance like ready-to-eat rations, medical supplies, vaccines, hygiene kits, water bottles, blankets and other necessities.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents, about 72%, supported humanitarian aid as the country’s response to war. Although it’s worth noting that European allies face a tougher challenge as tens of millions of refugees flee Ukraine to countries like Poland, Castle said.

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Gov. Cox reaffirms US, and Utah, support for Ukraine after call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

Overall, the U.S. has spent tens of billions more on military aid than humanitarian or financial aid to Ukraine in the past year, as the Council on Foreign Relations reported.

On Tuesday, Biden greenlighted $2.1 billion in new security assistance, supplying Ukraine with artillery rocket systems, tankers, missiles and ammunition.

This is the 35th round of support Biden has sent since the war started by using the presidential drawdown authority, which allows the executive branch to give defense support to foreign partners and allies.

“Our focus is on supporting the Ukrainians to change the dynamic on the ground,” a senior U.S. defense official said. “We want to help Ukraine advance and hold its positions in what we expect will be a Ukrainian counteroffensive.”

The poll found that about 48% favored providing military support, through weapons and supplies.

“A lot of people are very well informed of how Russia is carrying out this invasion, about the war crimes and the civilian rights of millions abused,” Castle said. “For those people, providing weapons looks like a pretty cheap way to do the right thing.”

Additionally, Castle argued that the military aid to Ukraine isn’t a “one-way cost” for the U.S. For one, the U.S. and its allies have given equipment and defense systems that were in surplus, making it manageable for the budget.

Meanwhile the money given to Ukraine is spent on U.S. weaponry, “and that’s a boon to the U.S. defense industry,” she explained.

“It’s clear that the U.S. military is learning a huge amount from this conflict, as is NATO, about modern-day warfare between two conventional armies,” she said.

Only 21% of voters supported sending U.S. troops to assist in combat in Ukraine. Biden has echoed the majority’s sentiments and refused to deploy American troops to this war. He stated in February that U.S. forces “are not and will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

What do Utah voters think about sanctions on Russia?

The U.S. also imposed 2,500 economic sanctions on Russian banks, imports and military equipment during this time, an effort coordinated with 30 other countries. Additionally, the administration seized or froze assets — like yachts, rare art and high-end real estate — owned by private Russian citizens.

Roughly 42% of those polled backed economic sanctions, while 28% supported seizing and freezing the assets of private Russian citizens.

This disparity between how voters view the two types of financial penalties may be because of their perception of the private Russian citizens in question, Castle said.

“Because what we’re talking about are the oligarchs ... the richest, most powerful Russians,” she said. “We’re not talking ordinary Russian millionaires who had serious assets out outside of Russia, we’re talking about extremely wealthy people who, while Putin doesn’t necessarily rely on them for support, are part of the status quo power structure in Russia, and have been complicit in what Russia is doing.”

A $325 million yacht seized last November belonged to billionaire Russian Suleiman Kerimov, who served as a senator in the Kremlin. Kerimov is known to have stakes in Russian gas and gold companies, per BBC News.

Castle said that although people see sanctions as “a very desirable way to deal with international conflict,” it doesn’t make them “a magic bullet.” The economic sanctions hurt the U.S. and its European allies, but they weaken Russia more, she said.

While Putin touts Russia’s record low unemployment and higher real wages, the nonmilitary sectors are struggling with labor shortages and waning consumer demand, as Natalia Orlova, the chief economist at Alfa Bank, the largest private bank in Russia, told Reuters.

“Overall, while current economic trends are better than our initial expectations, we think that the current positive figures are negative in terms of the Russian economy’s potential recovery,” said Orlova.

Only 9% of those surveyed in the Deseret News poll said they don’t support any U.S. response to the war. Nevertheless, Utah voters are paying attention to the harrowing reports coming out of Ukraine. Roughly 22% said they follow the war closely and 45% said somewhat closely.

Of the remainder, 25% of respondents said they don’t follow the Russia-Ukraine conflict very closely and 8% said they don’t follow it at all.

“It’s easy to forget what’s actually happening over there,” Cox said about the governors’ conversation with Zelenskyy on Tuesday. “And I think this was an important call and an important reminder to all of us of the terror that is being inflicted on ... millions of innocent people, in a country that we care deeply about.”