WARSAW, Poland (AP) Support for a missile defense pact with the U.S. has soared in ex-communist Poland in the wake of Russia's military campaign in Georgia, a poll showed Monday.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed support a pact that the two nations are to sign this week up from 30 percent in March 2007, according to a poll published in the Rzeczpospolita daily.
It is the first time a majority of Poles surveyed have backed the U.S. missile defense plan, said lead researcher Maciej Siejewicz from the Gfk Polonia polling agency.
Negotiations between Washington and Warsaw on placing 10 missile defense interceptors in Poland began about a year and a half ago. They finally struck a deal last week, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected in Poland this week to sign it.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Washington agreed to help augment Poland's defenses in exchange for placing 10 missile defense interceptors in the country a move Russia strenuously opposes.
A day after the deal was struck, a leading Russia general warned that Poland was exposing itself to attack even a nuclear one by accepting the U.S. missile interceptor base.
The signing ceremony with Rice will take place Wednesday, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said in an interview published Monday in the Dziennik daily. Rice is flying to Warsaw after an emergency NATO meeting Tuesday in Brussels.
Siejewicz said the recent war between Russia and ex-Soviet Georgia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia affected Poles' view of the system.
He said Poles feel they are living in a more unpredictable world and believe that the deal with the United States would increase their security.
Thirty-seven percent believe the deal is bad for Poland, the poll said.
A poll by the same agency in March 2007 indicated 30 percent support for the plan, and 51 percent opposition.
The Gfk Polonia institute in Warsaw questioned 500 people Saturday, two days after the missile deal was struck and a day after the Russian general made his threat. The survey had a margin of error of up to 4.5 percentage points.