In This Issue
Vol. 27 Issue 39
A SHOT AWAY: RUSSIA, NATO, AND THE STRIKE ON POLAND
- Article 5 and Its Implications
- Appropriate Response
- Keep Calm and Carry On
Why Read: This week we cover the implications of the first Russian strike on NATO territory since the war in Ukraine began. Read on for why it matters, and what can and should – and should not – be done to mitigate the situation.
Yesterday morning in the United States – evening in Europe – two Russian missiles struck a rural area in Poland, killing two civilians.
This should, of course, cause great concern about the motives or causes behind the strike. The speculation, however, that this is, could, or should be the beginning of a global conflagration between NATO and the Russian Federation is severely misguided.
Russian propagandists and sympathizers responded quickly to the news, seeking to distance Putin’s regime from the apparent accident by blaming Ukrainian forces. This is not particularly compelling propaganda, but it is indicative of something important: there is no apparent reason to believe that Russia is purposefully attempting a provocation. While there is no way to prove or disprove this, caution is best applied early and often in tense geopolitical situations that have the potential of leading to great power conflict.
A guided missile strike is often targeted and usually accurate. It is, however, common knowledge that the Russian military is somewhat lacking in professionalism and training. The war in Ukraine has painted a sad picture of the capabilities of Russian forces from an early date, and this among soldiers who chose military service as a profession. More recent information about the training and selection of draftees brought in to replace troop numbers decimated by months of fighting reveals a scenario even more dire. It’s clear at this point that the country is fighting with few resources (including even such basics as winter clothing and food) and ranks that increasingly comprise inexperienced and untrained soldiers who just weeks ago were sitting comfortably at home.
Thus, while a strike on NATO territory should by all means be taken seriously, it should also be viewed in its greater context. Theories abound about possible Russian motives, but the necessary response should hold in mind that – as we’ve seen so many times since the latest invasion of Ukraine began – the Russian military should be assumed to be fundamentally incompetent.
Obviously, Russia cannot be allowed to launch attacks in NATO nations without consequence. But before we dive into what responses make the most sense given the current situation, let’s review why strikes in Poland matter in particular.