Berlin After a rocket hit eastern Poland, there are indications that the missile was fired by Ukrainian troops. Stefan Meister, Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), sees the incident as a “worst case, which experts have repeatedly warned about, as it can lead to knee-jerk reactions.” The danger of a “major war in which NATO is directly involved with its own troops is increasing.”
Read the full interview here:
Handelsblatt: Mr. Meister, do you expect a military reaction from NATO after the rocket hits in Poland?
I don’t assume so. The defense alliance, the USA as the most important member and Poland as the country directly affected have reacted very calmly. All those involved have made it clear that clarification is now the priority. Under no circumstances does NATO want to be drawn directly into this war.
There is increasing evidence that the missile could be an anti-aircraft missile from Ukraine.
In fact, it currently looks like it was a Ukrainian anti-missile, a dud in defense against Russian missile fire. But it could also have been a stray Russian missile. Nevertheless, Russia is of course watching closely how NATO reacts. A clear signal is needed that an attack on Polish territory will not be tolerated.
Which one could that be?
For example, NATO could reinforce troops in Eastern Europe and on the Ukrainian border and supply Ukraine with even more weapons. Too cautious a reaction could goad Russia into attacking, or at least provoking.
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Ukraine’s foreign minister has called for a “principled” response, calling it “Russia’s missile terror.”
You really have to be careful not to let yourself be goaded by this harsh rhetoric. Ukraine, and in particular President Volodymyr Zelensky, are rhetorically toying with getting NATO more involved. Although I believe the missile impact was an accident. It is hoped that this will result in more military support. But we are in a very dangerous spiral of escalation.
What was your first thought when you found out about the rocket hits?
I was amazed that something like this hadn’t happened sooner after so many months of war. Such incidents are the worst case, which experts have repeatedly warned against, as they can lead to knee-jerk reactions. The danger of a major war in which NATO is directly involved with its own troops is increasing.
Such incidents are the worst case, which experts have repeatedly warned against, as they can lead to knee-jerk reactions. Stephen Master
Is it in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests to drag NATO into the war?
No, I don’t think so. NATO is already indirectly a party to the war through the arms deliveries. The fact that the Russians accept this shows that they know their limits and do not want escalation in this direction. Putin knows he cannot win such an argument. He’s running out of precision weapons, his army is a disaster, he’s severely weakened.
But the war goes on. The explosions in Poland were the sad culmination of a day when the Russians tried to destroy infrastructure.
Something went down. The fact that ten million Ukrainians are without electricity is a catastrophe. The West has assumed that Putin will compromise if the pressure on him mounts. But we see the opposite. Putin is not finished yet, he continues to escalate.
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