With Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine and threatening actions in Eastern Europe, some people have been using Cold War rhetoric and talking of a possible U.S.-Russian war. But how much is the United States actually prepared for a full-scale global conflict?
Two major additional escalation challenges are the lack of clear lines between arming an ally and directly attacking the other side, and the risk of deliberate risk manipulation or miscalculation when there is significant ambiguity. Arms control treaties and non-proliferation agreements help limit the amount of potential damage that could be done, but the rapid technological transformation of the world has introduced new risks by enabling weapons to be developed faster than current systems can be tested or limited.
A year after Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine, most Americans have very unfavorable views of that country and its leader Vladimir Putin (64%) and no confidence in Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (71%). Those with a higher level of education, Democrats and those who believe that the United States should be active in global affairs are more likely to have more positive opinions of Ukraine and NATO.
Most people also think that a full-scale U.S.-Russian war would be a very bad thing and that it is not in either country’s interest. And many are concerned that a full-scale war would cause the loss of jobs and a serious decline in economic conditions in both countries. In addition, most Russians have very little to gain from a war with the United States and are concerned about their own quality of life.