What if the "green men" (masked soldiers in unmarked green army uniforms and carrying modern Russian military weapons and equipment that appeared during the Ukrainian crisis of 2014 – Ed.) appeared in Poland, and the Russian ships decided to ram the Polish ship that came too close to the exit from Kaliningrad Bay and Baltiysk port? Would we hear from world leaders anything other than just "deep concerns" and "extreme disturbance" or appeals to "both sides" to "launch the de-escalation process?"
Imagine that Poland (not Ukraine) is the participant in the conflict, and the events take place in the Baltic sea instead of the Sea of Azov, that is, in Kaliningrad Bay (the only way out of it is situated in Russia), not near the Kerch Strait. Let us project the action from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to the Kaliningrad region and the Warmian-Masurian and Podlaskie Voivodeship bordering it, more specifically, to the Suwalki Gap, a narrow strip of land that connects Poland with Lithuania, and lies between the Kaliningrad region cut off from Mother Russia exclave and ally of the Kremlin Belarus.
Well, any suggestions? As NATO strategists have been saying for few years, Alliance’s northern flank is the “potentially explosive” European region, which would be the most difficult to protect. Or that Polish fleet is too weak to confront with the Russian Baltic fleet. Or that if “green men” suddenly appear on the Polish-Russian border, we will be in no better position than Ukraine is?
Everything looks great on paper. We have long been a part of the EU and NATO, we are economically and politically integrating with the West, and we are an important trading partner of Germany, which is “handling the cards” in Europe. Our military potential, of course, does not allow Russia to confront Russia by ourselves, but the US military are deployed on a rotational basis in Poland, and the Fifth Article of the Washington Treaty protects us, which states that attacking one member of the Alliance is equal to attacking everyone, and therefore it would not go unanswered.
Since NATO inception, the Fifth Article has been used only once; it was used by a country that could protect itself from any other state itself. It was used by the Americans ffter the 9/11 terrorist attack. On the day of the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the US president, instead of expressing his solidarity with Europe, recalled that she should allocate more money to the Alliance. This ally is just a treasure!
And now let us remember what steps Europe has taken in relation to Russia since 2014. It has introduced economic sanctions and compiled a list of persons banned from entering the EU, and that is all. Germany continues to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline, and such large countries as Italy openly criticize the anti-Russian course of European politics and directly agree with the Kremlin. Has anyone refused to participate in the Olympic Games or in the World Cup? Not at all.
Few years ago, when we have witnessed the aggravation of the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation, I have been in Brussels. No one there even thought that Kyiv should get some kind of military support. European diplomats and European parliamentarians from Western European countries used the word "de-escalation" in every way. It was a clever trick like other similar expressions – "deep concern" and "outrage."
The Americans have sent the Ukrainians equipment, but not the military personnel. Ukraine is not part of NATO, so it had to pay dearly for it. Then there were negotiations, but this wasn’t Washington-Brussels-Kyiv-Moscow format. When it came to the good old real politics, traditional powers began to deal with the peace agreement, which, however, did not put an end to the hybrid war. The opinion of France, Germany, and Russia was of particular significance. From the XIX century, the situation differs only in that today Russia can be called a power only in military sense.
The Warsaw Center for Eastern Studies is trying to cool the emotions, rightly emphasizing that “the incident with the shelling and detention of Ukrainian ships should not be considered the first step to aggression, because the political price of a new round of armed confrontation would be too high for Russia (additional Western sanctions, consolidation of the international community, anti-Russian mobilization in Ukraine), and the potential benefit from it is very doubtful. " It adds: “In the near future, Moscow is unlikely to undertake a large-scale offensive against Ukraine, since it will unite Ukrainian society in the face of a threat.”
Well, it just might be true. The Kremlin does not seek to enter into open conflict, because territorial acquisitions will end up being insignificant, and relations with Europe, whose money Russia really needs, would escalate. Maybe, you have opened a new small front of the hybrid war? Why not!
If Vladimir Putin shakes a cage with our politicians, he will watch how the Polish political chaos grows with unprecedented scale. Apparently, everything will end with the fright, feverish actions of the European diplomats, peace talks and some military, political and economic concessions regarding Moscow (for example, we will have to forget about Fort Trump).
Then the "restless world" will reign. “Green men” in uniform, which could be bought at any store, would from time to time respond to “provocations of the Polish side,” and ships of the Baltic Fleet would “exercise the right to protect Russian borders,” casing the Polish patrol boats . And so, one concession after another, incident after incident, maneuver after maneuver, provocation after provocation, and the Kremlin will patiently and effectively restore its former influences and outposts in Eastern Europe.
Read the original text at Wirtualna Polska.
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