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Poll: Americans want more sanctions on Russia, no arms for Ukraine

Poll: Americans want more sanctions on Russia, no arms for Ukraine
The Pentagon has sent U.S. paratroopers to Poland in response to Russian aggression in neighboring Ukraine, as seen in this photo taken at the air base in Swidwin last week. A poll released Monday shows Americans oppose military help for Ukraine by a 2-1 margin. (Lukasz Szelemej / Associated Press)

Americans support imposing tougher sanctions on Russia for its aggressiveness in sovereign Ukraine but by a 2-1 margin oppose any U.S. military aid to the embattled government in Kiev, poll results released Monday show.

The report by the Pew Research Center coincided with an announcement by the Obama administration that it had expanded its list of sanctions targets to add seven more Russian officials and 17 Russian companies with close ties to President Vladimir Putin.

The Pew/USA Today poll conducted over the weekend found 53% of the 1,501 Americans surveyed were in favor of stepping up economic and diplomatic sanctions on Moscow for its March annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and reported instigation of the separatist actions roiling eastern Ukraine.

But 62% of those polled said they were opposed to sending arms or other military aid to Ukraine, more than twice the 30% who backed providing defense help to Ukrainians trying to hold their country together.

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The strong opposition to even indirect military intervention may reflect Americans' war-weariness after the deadly and expensive U.S. deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years.

Less than half those questioned said they were well informed about the tension between the two former Soviet republics and 20% said they knew nothing about it.

The poll also found respondents divided on how important Russia's behavior in Ukraine was to U.S. interests. Less than a third, 31%, said that what happened between Russia and Ukraine was "very important" to the United States; 36% said events there were "somewhat important"; and 29% said the faraway conflict was of little or no importance to American interests.

Only modest partisan differences were identified by the pollsters: 55% of those who identified themselves as Democrats supported tougher sanctions on Russia, while 58% of those who said they were Republicans wanted more punishment of Moscow's actions.

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The sole question eliciting a clear political division asked how respondents evaluated President Obama's handling of the crisis. Of the Republicans surveyed, 55% said Obama hadn't been tough enough on Russia, while 56% of Democrats said he was handling the situation "about right."

Twitter: @cjwilliamslat

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