How the US could utilise Polish Missile tensions to pin back Russia

By Hashim Abid

LAST month’s meeting between NATO officials over the missile strike that fell into the Polish village of Przewodów was charged with tension

The incident was hugely significant as it was the first time that a NATO member had been struck in the midst of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

U\kraine blamed Russia, as for the Polish and the Americans-after investigation-suggested that it was not Russia, but rather Ukraine where the missiles originated from.

Polish President Duda stated that, there were “many indications” that the missile was fired as part of Ukraine’s air defences and “unfortunately fell on Polish territory”.

Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, told the Polish parliament that it was possible the incident was the result of a provocation from the Russian side.

Biden’s defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said the US had not seen anything that contradicted Poland’s preliminary assessment that Tuesday evening’s missile was the result of a Ukrainian air defence missile.

The NATO secretary general also concurred with initial assessment stating that, the missile was a result of Ukraine defence system, but the ultimate blame goes towards Russia’s devastating war upon Ukraine.  Stoltenberg said: “Russia bears the ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”

On the other hand, Ukraine’s leader Zelensky denied the conclusions of the former assessments, and remained firm that it was Russian missiles and Ukraine had nothing to do with it. 

Oleksiy Danilov said Ukraine wanted a “joint study” of the missile incident with its partners. Duda said both Poland and the US would have to agree before Ukraine could take part in the investigation.

The tensions and disagreements between the former parties has made the situation even more complex, at least for now.

Every crisis, however, can be utilised by a nation to achieve its objectives, and for the US this could be the opportunity to do so. The US could most possibly use Polish concerns to roll-back Russia into an Asiatic power permanently.

In doing so, punishing Russia for its revisionist and warmongering attitude and guaranteeing security to US allies in Europe. In return, the US can maintain and protect its liberal order from destabilising effects, and maximise its geopolitical pre-eminence within the continent.

Polish history has been riddled with territorial insecurity. Just as Russia wants to extend its buffers into the West so, does Poland desires to extend its buffers to the East. Poland has always remained weak from its Western and Eastern flank.

Historically, Poland was dominated by the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and German empires and furthermore, in both world wars the Poles faced invasions from Germany and Russia. Prior to 1795, however, Poland formed a formidable alliance with Lithuania where Polish geopolitical primacy reached all the way from the Baltics to the Black Sea.  It was not until German reunification, Russian re-emergence and the Austro-Hungarian empire’s formation in 1867, which placed the Poles in a strenuous position from all three fronts.

From that moment onwards, the Poles have never been able to achieve security until the 1995 where German-Polish reconciliation took place and trade between the two nations exploded, which resulted in Poland superseding Russia as Germany’s partner of trade.

Similarly, the new trajectory of relations between Berlin and Warsaw provided the opportunity for Poland to be sponsored for NATO (1999) and EU membership (2003) – enhancing Polish recalibration to the West. In return, offsetting Russia.

Nevertheless, the Franco-German axis remained strong and Polish scepticism especially towards Germany remained in addition, to the Russian resurgence under Putin.  

Though the current reality illustrates that this is not the case anymore since Russia has been weakened, and the German economic power is facing war fatigue. Moreover, Germany has come under much negative spotlight pertaining to its lack of efforts in midst of Ukraine war. The former situation leaves Poland with an opportunity to expand.

Finally, Ukraine, a geopolitical pivot, being attacked naturally leaves Poland as the new and the only geopolitical pivot in the European continent. The United States can build its strategy upon this in order to maintain its geopolitical primacy and moreover, peace and security from unwanted aggression.

In the future, the American strategy could be predicated upon debilitating and isolating Russia in order to establish a new balance of power on the Eurasian continent to protect America’s global primacy.

In the past nine months, the US has been able to weaken Russia via Ukraine, gain political leverage upon Russia in regards to Ukraine and in return, corrode Russia’s political integrity. Moreover, the US has been able to isolate Russia from China where Beijing has remained extremely silent and hesitant to support either side thus, leaving Russia without an ally to aid its policy towards Ukraine.

If there was a true alliance between Russia and China then there would have been a simultaneous invasion of Ukraine and Taiwan. But this does not seem to be the case since the relationship between the two nations lacks substance, and now more than ever.

Lastly, Russia’s CIS nations have become weary of Russia where countries like Uzbekistan have started to make demands towards Moscow to renegotiate the trade terms in order to compensate for the sanctions.

So far, Russia is in a debacle but what could  really provide a jarring blow to Moscow is it being reduced to an Asiatic power.

For America in the future the final lynchpin to achieve the objective of reshaping Russia’s geopolitical reality would be to incorporate Poland into Ukraine. By integrating Poland in some fashion for Kyiv’s reconstruction, security training and enhancement will not only aid Ukraine, but will also help Poland reconnect with its historical geopolitical preponderance, and elevate its status on the continent via American backing.

Henceforth, in the future Russia would not be able to ever attack Ukraine since a NATO member would be involved in the nation’s reconstruction making it complex to launch any sort of attack therefore, reducing Russia to an Asiatic power due to the Article V of NATO being in effect.

Since Russia will never allow Ukraine to be incorporated into the Northern alliance, the former strategy of utilising Poland could be a valuable card for the US to use Poland under a sub-pretext – there are many – to provide a knockout blow to Russia.

Featured Image: NATO @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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