War in Ukraine: Britons support sanctions, but not if it means costs rise

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
February 24, 2022, 12:49 PM GMT+0

Britons see Russia as the clear aggressor but are hesitant about direct action

In the early hours of this morning, Russian tanks, vehicles, and troops mobilised - beginning the long-feared invasion of Ukraine.

Many countries have vocally backed Ukraine this morning, including the UK. While many expect the West to deploy another round of economic sanctions, it remains to be seen if there will be a commitment to direct military action against Russia.

Two-thirds of Britons (69%) would support another round of economic sanctions from the UK against Russia's interests in the country, including 46% who would strongly support such a move.

Another 45% would back sending additional troops to reinforce NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Three in ten (30%) would oppose doing so.

Britons do not support getting militarily involved in Ukraine, however. Most (55%) are opposed to conducting airstrikes against Russian forces in Ukraine, and the same number oppose deploying troops to Ukraine directly.

Voters are generally united in both their support for indirect action and sanctions and in their opposition to direct action. That said, Conservative voters are more in favour of each of the measures we asked about than their Labour peers.

Are Britons willing to accept costs at home to sanction Russia?

War in Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences. Already the price of oil has risen to a level not seen in the last seven years, and with Russia supplying around 40% of Europe’s gas other energy costs are sure to rise.

While Britons support new sanctions against Russia, the cost of living is already soaring in the UK. When faced with the choice, Britons are hesitant to sanction Russia if it means accepting further price increases.

By 49% to 31%, Britons would oppose increased sanctions against Russia if that would bring a significant increase to energy bills.

By 45% to 35%, Britons would also oppose sanctions that increase the overall cost of living, and similarly tend to oppose sanctions that would lead to shortages of oil and gas at home by 43% to 36%.

Half (51%) would oppose increased taxes to cover additional defence costs, versus 32% who would support such a tax hike.

How well is Boris handling the situation between Ukraine and Russia?

Boris Johnson addressed the country this morning, pledging the support of the UK to the Ukrainian people – vowing to “hobble” the Russian economy with a 'massive' package of sanctions. However, the last round of UK sanctions against Russia was painted as “weak” by some MPs.

Britons are divided on Johnson's handling of the situation so far – 34% think he is handling it badly, and 29% think he is doing well.

Unsurprisingly, 2019 Conservative voters think Johnson is managing the situation well (55%), with only 15% thinking he is handling it poorly. On the other hand, 54% of Labour voters think he is handling it badly, while 11% say he has done well.

See full results here

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