Nearly three-fourths of Americans across the political spectrum said they agreed with a hypothetical NATO military action to support Ukraine — even though Russia has warned that doing it would result in a nuclear World War III with the West.
According to a poll completed by Reuters/Ipsos on Friday, March 5, 74 percent of 831 respondents selected for their accurate statistical representation of average Americans said that they would support the enforcement of a “no-fly-zone” over Ukraine’s airspace by NATO.
A no-fly-zone would mean bringing aircraft of the U.S.-led alliance into direct combat with the Russian air force, which is currently operating in Ukraine along with Russian ground and naval forces.
Reuters reported that many of the poll respondents may not have been aware of what imposing a no-fly-zone actually entails.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday again reiterated his country’s commitment to using its nuclear arsenal should NATO troops “interfere” with the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24.
On Feb 27, he had announced that the Russian strategic forces had entered a “special regime of combat duty” in response to “aggressive statements” from the West.
NATO has built up considerable aerial forces in its Eastern European member states since the beginning of the war, and is conducting frequent patrols in the Black and Baltic seas.
Previously, the U.S. enforced two no-fly-zones over Iraqi airspace following the 1991 Gulf War.
Russian officials have presented the war in Ukraine as a matter of core national security interests. Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO and used to be part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union together with the modern Russian state, has drifted closer to the West in the last two decades.
Along with the expansion of NATO to the east, Moscow has feared that the large country of 44 million would become irreversibly separate from the Russian sphere.
Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, with nearly 4,500 available warheads. Of those, more than 1,500 are mounted on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which fly into space at speeds of more than 10 times the speed of sound, are extremely difficult to intercept once in flight.
Hours after Putin made his initial remarks about the readiness of Russian nuclear forces, state TV anchor Dmitry Kiselyov asked rhetorically, “Why do we need a world if Russia is not in it?”