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Poll: Eastern Europeans view NATO as protection

By
Eric DuVall
An American M1A2 Abrams tank moves quickly into firing position during a live-fire training exercise on January 30 at Karlikie Range, Zagan, Poland. The exercise, the first between the U.S. 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the Polish 11th Armored Cavalry Division, took place after a formal welcome ceremony for the American soldiers. The American forces arrived in Poland earlier this month to begin a nine-month “heel-to-toe” rotation to bolster ties with NATO allies. Photo by Staff Sgt. Corinna Baltos/U.S. Army/UPI
An American M1A2 Abrams tank moves quickly into firing position during a live-fire training exercise on January 30 at Karlikie Range, Zagan, Poland. The exercise, the first between the U.S. 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the Polish 11th Armored Cavalry Division, took place after a formal welcome ceremony for the American soldiers. The American forces arrived in Poland earlier this month to begin a nine-month “heel-to-toe” rotation to bolster ties with NATO allies. Photo by Staff Sgt. Corinna Baltos/U.S. Army/UPI

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- With the United States and its European allies beefing up troop deployments in the area, a new survey finds majorities in several eastern European nations view the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, as protection rather than a threat.

A majority of respondents in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia told Gallup they view NATO as a protection for their nations and other than those living in nations closely aligned with Russia, relatively few viewed NATO as a security threat.

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Sixty-two percent of Poles, 57 percent of Lithuanians and 52 percent of Estonians said NATO serves to protect their countries, a Gallup poll found. A wide plurality of citizens in other eastern European nations said NATO was either a protection or had no effect on security in their countries.

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Two countries, Montenegro and Serbia, were home to more residents who viewed NATO as a threat than protection. Both nations were targets of NATO bombing campaigns in the 1990s, following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo War.

In Montenegro, 29 percent of people said NATO was a threat and 21 percent said it was protection; Serbia was 64 percent threat, 6 percent protection.

NATO has recently undertaken its largest peacetime troop deployment in Europe since the Cold War in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

Gallup surveyed at least 1,000 people in each country in 2016. The margin of error varies by nation.

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