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Third of Americans Would Risk Nuclear War With Russia Over Ukraine: Poll

Darragh Roche

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A third of Americans favor U.S. military action in Ukraine even if it risks a nuclear confrontation with Russia, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The survey found that 35 percent of Americans supported the U.S. taking military action "even if it risks a nuclear conflict with Russia," while 62 percent were opposed to the idea.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has entered its third week and President Joe Biden has repeatedly said U.S. troops will not be involved in the fighting. NATO has also ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine because of concerns about a direct confrontation with Russian forces.

The Pew Research Center survey found that similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats favored U.S. military action, with 36 of Republicans and 35 percent of Democrats supporting it.

Russia is a nuclear power and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Monday that nuclear conflict was "now back within the realm of possibility" after Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the alert level of his country's nuclear forces in February.

Days after Russia's initial attack on Ukraine, Putin placed Russia's nuclear forces on alert citing "aggressive statements" from the West. The Biden administration criticized the decision.

The Pew Research Center also found broad bipartisan support for how the U.S. has been working with international allies to respond to the Russian invasion as 73 percent of respondents in the Republican/lean Republican category and 85 percent in the Democrat/lean Democrat category said it was the right approach.

The survey was conducted from March 7 to 13 among 10,441 U.S. adults who are part of the research center's American Trends Panel and had a margin of error +/- 1.5 percent.

While 32 percent of respondents said the U.S. was providing about the right amount of support for Ukraine, 42 percent said the U.S. wasn't providing enough support. A further 19 percent weren't sure and 7 percent said the U.S was giving Ukraine too much support.

On Tuesday, President Biden signed into law a $1.5 trillion package to fund the federal government which included $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine.

The U.S. and its NATO allies have so far provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid and military equipment, including thousands of anti-tank missiles. More aid is expected as the conflict continues.

Americans' views on support for Ukraine are likely informed by the fact that respondents in both parties appear to consider the Russian invasion to be a "major threat" to U.S. interests.

The Pew survey found that 51 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believed it was a major threat, while 50 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents agreed.