“Not even political myopia.” Western countries will not be able to sit this one out – Portnikov

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On November 15, when the Polish leadership published a message about the fall of missiles in one of the border villages and the death of two citizens of their country, began one of the most disturbing nights in all the months of russia’s war against Ukraine, writes Ukrainian journalist Vitaly Portnikov for graniru.org.

For the first time, there was a real danger of a direct confrontation between russia and NATO – and this is a transition to a completely different scale of hostilities with an unpredictable ending. In history, there has not yet been a direct collision of a nuclear state with a bloc whose members have nuclear arsenals. In this situation, one can only hope that nuclear weapons will remain a deterrent. But hope is not the most effective aid in a war.

This time – at least for now – NATO countries have decided not to go into direct confrontation with moscow and attributed the incident to the Ukrainian air defense system, although Kyiv vigorously denies this and insists that it was definitely russian missiles that fell on Polish territory. But if the war continues, such a hit may happen more than once. After all, in fact, those missiles that fell on Polish territory were not the first to land on the soil of a third country. Missiles have already hit the territory of the Republic of Moldova. Just because this country is not a member of NATO, it did not receive the same resonance as the hit of missiles on the territory of Poland.

And a simple question arises: What will happen next time if it is completely obvious that those were russian missiles, and the results of their hit will lead to more serious consequences than it was on November 15 [although the death of two innocent people is already in itself a serious consequence, how many such lives are already on the conscience of vladimir putin and the russian state?] Will it be possible to pretend all the time that this is not deliberate aggression, that russia does not seek a confrontation with NATO and, therefore, there is nothing to respond to. Moreover, right now, when the desire of the leaders of the NATO countries to avoid escalation has become obvious, the kremlin will push them toward this escalation, pretending like those will be new “accidents” in a hooligan way and refusing to accept responsibility. Is it possible that one day direct confrontation can be no longer avoided?

From the very first days of the war, the West claimed that any attempt to “close the sky” over Ukraine would lead to such a direct confrontation – and this is unacceptable precisely because a conflict between nuclear powers is unacceptable. But now the situation looks diametrically opposite. Now, the security of Ukraine is the security of Europe. This is precisely how to avoid a direct confrontation between NATO and russia.

If NATO countries have no desire to think about the security of the Ukrainian skies – although, after systematic missile attacks and the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure, the country is close to a humanitarian catastrophe, which will fully ensure the new migration wave provoked by putin – then let the border states at least think about themselves. It becomes obvious that there can be no security for Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary without the security of Ukraine. That there can be no security for Europe without the security of Ukraine.

Therefore, just watching putin destroy Ukraine, while the Ukrainian army liberates Ukrainian territories occupied by the enemy, is not even political myopia. This is a misunderstanding of how to achieve peace and security for yourself. It is an unwillingness to see that it will no longer be possible to protect “every inch” of NATO territory, leaving Ukraine alone – even with all the military and economic support – to confront a state convinced that the war in Ukraine is a war with NATO and the United States.

It will not be possible to sit this one out in the amphitheater, no matter how the leaders of Western countries strive for this. Sooner or later you will have to go on stage.

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