New Poll Reveals What Some Americans Think About Trump Amid The Ukraine Crisis

As Russia prepared to and then invaded Ukraine, former President Donald Trump had been extremely vocal about his thoughts on what most world leaders have deemed an immoral, invalid, and inhumane act of war. On the morning of February 27, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made formal charges against Russia at the U.N. high court in the Hague, Reuters reports. Zelenskyy explained, "Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression. We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week." This came after another night of battling for Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, in which President Zelenskyy himself has been participating to defend his country.

Despite this, former President Trump has been busy praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. The day before Russia invaded Ukraine, a video posted on YouTube showed Trump calling Putin's wartime strategy "pretty smart," according to The New York TimesVanity Fair reports the former president also had called Putin's barbaric treatment of Ukraine "genius" and "wonderful."

As the invasion of Ukraine began to unfold Wednesday night, Trump spoke with Fox News' Laura Ingraham. During the interview, Vanity Fair reports Trump insisted that Russia's invasion of Ukraine "would have never happened" if not for "a rigged election" that he continues to claim kept him from winning a second term. "[Putin] was going to be satisfied with the peace," Trump argued. "And now he sees the weakness and the incompetence of the stupidity of this administration."

This is what Donald Trump has been saying about Ukraine

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) being held in Orlando, Florida, Rolling Stone reports former President Donald Trump said this of the Russian president: "[Vladimir] Putin declared a big portion of ... Ukraine ... as independent. Oh, that's wonderful. ... I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That's the strongest peace force. ... We could use that on our southern border. That's the strongest peace force I've ever seen. There were more army tanks than I've ever seen. They're going to keep the peace all right. Here's a guy who's very savvy..."

This overlooks the fact that former President Trump has had his own dealings with Ukraine. During his first impeachment, Politico explains Trump had been charged with holding millions of dollars in security aid from Ukraine in an attempt to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into investigating Trump's political rivals, including Joe Biden.

Former President Trump's supporters have been listening. The New York Times reports that "pro-Russian sentiment" has flooded social media, including YouTube, Telegram, and podcasts. Instead of denouncing Putin's actions, there has been sympathy and approval for Russia's invasion. Conspiracy theories have been at the heart of the pro-Putin discourse, including many believing NATO is violating territorial agreements with Russia that don't actually exist, per The New York Times. Another popular conspiracy theory is that Putin and Trump are even working together on the invasion, with the goal of "taking down a cabal of global elites over sex trafficking."

This is what some Americans think would have happened in Ukraine if Trump were still president

The shift to pro-Russian sentiment is a major shift from the country's reputation during the Cold War. For Americans, Russia during that time was very much the enemy. But especially since the 2016 presidential election, Americans have become seemingly more trusting of Vladimir Putin and Russian motives.

As The New York Times explains, Trump has appeared "favorable" and "admiring" of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which has "seeded a more favorable view among Mr. Trump's supporters," according to misinformation researchers. They also believe Putin, who is seen as being "invested heavily in sowing discord," had found the perfect ally in Mr. Trump. Melissa Ryan, the chief executive of Card Strategies, a consulting firm that researches disinformation, believes "[a]nyone who studies disinformation or the far right has seen the influence of Putin's investment take hold."

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump did shift his tone some when he spoke about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling," he said Saturday night, Rolling Stone reports. "It's an outrage, and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine."

Of course, Trump also stuck to the argument that Russia would have never invaded if he had been president. The thing is, polls show Americans agree. In a poll reported on by The Hill, 62% of Americans believe Putin wouldn't have invaded Ukraine if Trump were still president.

The link between the 'TikTok war' and the new Trump-focused Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll

The crisis in Ukraine is one of the first major wars to be broadcast on social media in real-time by on-the-ground civilians. As a result, people around the globe are seeing raw, unedited images and videos uploaded by Ukrainians fleeing their homes, hiding in underground subway stations, and desperately trying to access food, gas, and necessities.

The war has yielded an overwhelming barrage of social media coverage, while media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post report on the extraordinary volume of information surrounding the war. Former U.S. Army journalist and photographer Daniel Johnson chimes in, via Slate, to punctuate the importance of this new age of war:

"The scale and impact of what's occurring and what we're seeing can't be understated. We're watching a massive conflict — the scale of which hasn't been seen on the continent in almost 100 years — rock the second-largest country in Europe. From our offices, our porches, our cars, and our schools, we can watch battles as they happen."

Consequently, Americans are navigating the deluge of both media and civilian coverage of the war at a time when, according to The Hill, Biden's approval ratings have waned. Along those lines, the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey conducted between February 23 and February 24 indicates that 62% of the 2,026 voters polled believe that Putin would not have invaded if Trump were president.

Demonstrative of the complexity of the matter, however, 41% of those polled did not align Putin's decision to attack with a perceived weakness in Biden's leadership. To that end, Johnson sums it up best when he says that the accessibility of this war "signifies a historical change in how we fight — and how the world watches those fights."