Poland In The Ukrainian Crisis
By Robert Strybel
WARSAW–“Russian aggression – German betrayal” read the headline on the cover of the conservative news weekly Sieci (networks, nets). Inside the issue, journalists showcased Poland’s intensive diplomatic efforts to gain international support for a Ukraine seemingly threatened by Russian aggression. That in a nutshell describes the situation of East-Central Europe which for months has made headlines around the globe.
Russian aggression, German betrayal, Polish diplomatic offensive
In addition to providing Ukraine with arms and humanitarian aid, Poland’s top leadership has been working overtime on the road and online persuading allied European Union and NATO countries to present a united front against Putin’s provocations. Germany has openly undermined the solidarity by not only refusing to provide arms to the beleaguered Ukrainians but actually denying countries that are doing so the right to fly through German air space. Berlin is mainly concerned about its natural-gas deal with Moscow. At long last, Washington is finally threatening to prevent the activation of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, if even a single Russian soldier crosses the Ukrainian border.
Most Poles do not fear a Russian military attack on Polish territory. Polish support for the besieged Ukrainians recalls the solidarity with the underdog displayed by the late president Lech Kaczyński in 2008. When Russian troops had occupied two chunks of Georgian territory, Kaczyński headed a high-level delegation of leaders from Ukraine and the Baltic States who flew into the combat zone and prevented the Russian bombing of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.
The current Moscow-engineered Ukrainian crisis is a far more complex operation. It involves troop build-ups near the Ukrianian border enhanced with elements of hybrid warfare, especially deliberate disinformation. To sow chaos and panic among Ukrainians, the Kremlin has been leaking fake news including a plan to install a pro-Moscow puppet government in Kyiv and annex Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.
The Russian navy has not only stepped up its activities in the Black Sea and Baltic, but Irish fishermen have reported Russian battleships operating near their fishing grounds off the coast of Ireland, The Danes were surprised to see a fleet of Russian landing craft near their territorial waters. Moscow was reported transferring troops from far-eastern Russia
to near the Ukrianian border. Sensationalized media reports and Western countries withdrawing the families of their diplomats from Ukraine have heightened the overall tension.
It seems highly unlikely that Putin really wants a shooting war, because neither Russia nor anyone else would benefit from one. His hybrid warfare seems primarily meant to destabilize Ukraine and weaken Western support for that country. His saber rattling has caused the West to issue warnings and deploy troops, while sending its media into a frenzy of speculation. He may actually enjoy all the publicity and to some extent resemble a prankster who activates a fire alarm and gets a thrill watching firefighters arrive and search in vain for the non-existent blaze.