A new poll suggests nearly three-quarters of Canadians believe NATO allies should prepare for military intervention as Russian aggression escalates in Ukraine, even as half hold out hope for a diplomatic resolution.
The online survey of 1,515 Canadians and 1,002 Americans was conducted by Leger between Friday and Sunday.
The survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered truly random samples.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has signalled its solidarity with Ukraine in the form of supplies, weapons and sanctions since the early days of Russia’s latest incursion into its territory, but has not deployed troops for combat.
“This is the first time where people say, ‘Give diplomacy and sanctions a chance but brace for potentially this becoming military involvement,’” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.
Approximately 49 per cent of Canadians still believe a diplomatic end to the war is possible, but 64 per cent said the conflict between Ukraine and Russia will be protracted, and will last many years.
Sixty-five per cent of Canadians said governments should impose more severe sanctions against Russia, even if it means higher gas prices for western countries, even though 62 per cent agreed the sanctions mainly hurt the Russian people and not Russian President Vladimir Putin directly. Only 35 per cent believe economic sanctions will actually convince Putin to back down.
Canadians seem to understand the stakes are high, and they increasingly believe the conflict could escalate into a world war, the poll shows. About three-quarters report they believe the situation has the potential to lead to a third world war in this latest poll, compared to 66 per cent of Canadians polled at the end of February when the conflict first began.
Nearly half of those polled, about 47 per cent, say they believe Putin will use nuclear weapons if the conflict doesn’t go his way.
“The fear factor is high,” Bourque said.
Under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, an attack on a NATO country is considered an attack on all NATO countries, and they all must help to restore security.
According to the poll, about two-thirds of Canadians believe Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO — a move that could draw the allied countries into direct conflict with Russia.
Ukraine, currently considered a NATO partner, has repeatedly requested to join the treaty and even enshrined that goal into the country’s constitution in 2019.
As for who will win the conflict, 41 per cent of respondents admit they don’t know, and the remaining 59 per cent are split. Russia will win the war, according to 27 per cent of those who responded, while 33 per cent believe Ukraine will successfully drive the Russians off.
—Laura Osman, The Canadian Press