A Ukrainian serviceman jumps from an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in Avdeyevka near Donetsk, Ukraine, June 4, 2015.
A Ukrainian serviceman jumps from an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in Avdeyevka near Donetsk, Ukraine, June 4, 2015.

Residents of several NATO member countries blame Russia for the Ukrainian crisis but would be reluctant for their governments to provide military aid to Ukraine or any NATO member country attacked by Russia, a poll released Wednesday showed.

Fewer than half those surveyed in Britain (49 percent), Spain (48 percent), France (47 percent), Italy (40 percent) and Germany (38 percent)  supported use of military force to defend NATO allies if Russia engaged in a serious military conflict with one of them, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found. The Pew survey showed that citizens of the United States (56 percent) and Canada (53 percent) were slightly more inclined to back their allies if attacked.

The results come at a time when tensions between Russia and the West have deteriorated to a level unseen since the Cold War. The NATO nations that border Russia — the Baltics and Poland — have stepped up military exercises and spending to counter possible Russian aggression.

Article 5 of the NATO charter requires that member nations defend one another if one comes under attack.

Ivan Vejvoda, vice president of the German Marshall Fund, a group that provides research and analysis on trans-Atlantic matters, disputed the Pew results, saying that “opinion polls are snapshots of opinions in a certain moment and they cannot reflect the real time situation.”

In an interview with VOA’s Serbian service, Vejvoda said that elected officials of NATO countries are committed to the NATO charter, and that they had confirmed in recent meetings that if one country was attacked, they all would come to its defense.

The Pew report, he said, should be seen in connection with other polls conducted in those counties.

“What happened in Ukraine has confused people. What comes from Pew is that people do not want to see war again,” Vejvoda said.  But he added that “if there is an escalation, then there will be a change of opinion.”

Vejvoda stressed that the European Union and the United States have displayed unity in their stance on Russia. In fact, at the G-7 summit this week, they agreed sanctions against Moscow would be maintained and perhaps even strengthened, he said.

"Whatever the public thinks, the leaders that they have elected have understood that there needs to be a very clear message to Russia that this is unacceptable,” added Vejvoda.