Exclusive-Americans broadly support Ukraine no-fly zone, Russia oil ban -poll

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears on a screen at the famous city centre Roemerberg in Frankfurt
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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A broad bipartisan majority of Americans think the United States should stop buying Russian oil and gas and work with NATO to set up "no-fly zones" to protect Ukraine from Russian air strikes, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Friday.

The poll, conducted Thursday and Friday, suggests that U.S. outrage is growing over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which in recent days has increasingly involved Russian bombing of urban areas.

That puts pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden to take more aggressive actions against Moscow, although he has dismissed the notion of no-fly zones because of the risk of open conflict between NATO and Russian forces.

It was not clear if respondents who supported a no-fly zone were fully aware of the risk of conflict, and majorities opposed the idea of sending American troops to Ukraine or conducting air strikes to support the Ukrainian army.

Some 74% of Americans - including solid majorities of Republicans and Democrats - said the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine, the poll found.

An equally bipartisan 80% of Americans said the United States should stop buying Russian oil. The White House on Friday said it was weighing cuts to U.S. imports of Russian oil, though it is proceeding cautiously, concerned about a spike in gasoline prices that would add to high inflation.

Moreover, 81% of Americans think Washington should impose additional sanctions on Russia, up from 77% in a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday. Support for more sanctions was also bipartisan.

Some 77% of respondents said the United States should seize the assets of Russian oligarchs associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pressure is growing on Biden to ramp up economic pressure on Russia by targeting its massive exports of oil and gas. Some Western leaders worry such an approach could trigger a global energy crunch and possibly escalate the conflict.

However, some 62% of respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said paying more for fuel and gas because of the crisis was worthwhile to defend another democratic country.

"You see increasing willingness among the American public to pay costs for that support" of Ukraine, said Craig Kafura, a public opinion expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Most respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll - 72% - said they believed the United States should provide Ukraine with weapons.

The United States has pledged to boost weapons shipments to Ukraine, whose forces have put up more resistance to Russian forces than many experts initially expected.

Biden has also asked the U.S. Congress to approve an additional $10 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Some 74% of Americans said their country should take Ukrainian refugees, a level of support Kafura said was surprising.

Biden's handling of the crisis is getting better marks, with 45% approval from the public, up from 34% last week. But it is unclear if this will lift his overall approval rating, which has been below 50% since August.

A separate Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this week showed Biden's overall popularity was near the low point of his presidency, a warning sign for his Democratic Party ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm congressional elections.

The poll on Ukraine was conducted online and in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 831 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)