Many political commentators have long predicted that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk would make a decision on stationing part of the U.S. missile defense shield there, based largely on opinion polls. Russia’s aggressive incursion into sovereign Georgian territory last week undoubtedly accelerated his decision, aided by the startling effect the invasion had on Polish public attitudes towards the deal.
Before Russia’s brutal actions in Georgia, support for the bilateral U.S.-Polish deal had hovered around the 30% mark; however, a poll from Monday published in Rzeczpospolita daily, showed that 58% of the Polish public now supports the deal. The polling agency commented that this is the first time that there has been a majority in favor of the stationing of 10 interceptors on Polish soil, having previously tracked strong opposition to the deal.
The arguments in favor of the shield were sometimes complex and were often unmade by the Polish leadership. However, the sight of Russian tanks rolling through a near neighbor’s sovereign territory effectively made the argument for them.
Ultimately, the missile defense deal will contribute to stability in the region and has the support of both NATO and now the Polish public. Poland has elevated itself into a special defense relationship with the United States and has sent a clear message to Moscow that Warsaw will never again be part of its sphere of influence.