Two on Polish Border Killed by Projectile and Why Russia is to Blame

Regardless of the origin, Moscow bears responsibilty

16 November 2022

Wojciech Przybylski


Another tragedy – this time on NATO territory – will not lead to further escalation. But the West must simultaneously show support for Ukraine and its collective strength while undeniably stating that the fault of these horrible events lies solely with Moscow.

Just as rockets or air defence debris hit and eventually killed two in the Polish border settlement of Przewodów, NATO countries went on alert.

Yet, cool heads must prevail and the consultative mechanism of the Alliance is most likely the course of action as prescribed by Article 4. The Polish government got that part right.

Strong, United Action For Polish Border Attack

As NATO ambassadors convene meetings and investigations reveal more about the incident in Poland, Alliance leaders will need to consider what more they should do to discourage Russia from deteriorating the situation further.

It will only be time before more NATO casualties are incurred as Moscow raises stakes in the war on Ukraine that they are losing.

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For one, Russia should be made to answer to make sure that Moscow – along with the subjugated Minsk – explains itself, rather than throw ludicrous accusations against the West.

It is important primarily from the point of view of showing Moscow that NATO is capable of responding in force or by new sanctions for now, and at the same time counter Russian disinformation.

Moscow has its own way of blaming someone else whenever it is suspected of wrongdoing. Hence, Lavrov was quick to throw a preemptive punch while dodging responsibility and calling the incident a provocation. Just like he did in the Skripal case and in the typical denial of strategic communication by Russia.

Second, NATO should increase arms support to help Ukraine defend itself by means of effective air defence systems as well as by even longer-range precision weapons. These should be supplied to Kyiv and be used to destroy further stockpiles of ammunition or offensive systems of the Russian army used against Ukraine. Limited Russian stockpiles mean fewer threats to NATO countries.

Without that measure, Ukraine and the West will be only further exposed to the terrorist practices of Russia. Its long-range weapons are increasingly imprecise and cause more and more civilian casualties in Ukraine along the incapacitating critical infrastructure. Whether deliberate war crimes or not – Russia just does not care if it kills more and more civilians.

Therefore, it’s better that Russian weapons are destroyed as soon as possible before even being implemented into combat.

Third, it should be remembered that at the same time as the incident on the Polish border, there were some 100 air attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure. This has been a deliberate attempt at intimidating Ukrainian society which must simultaneously endure the awful hardship of war and the upcoming winter.

Hence, NATO countries should double their efforts to help Ukraine repair its essential facilities and provide power generators and heating equipment. Nights in Ukraine are already below zero with temperatures expected to drop even further.

Finally, we should all watch the ongoing G20 summit where Putin did not show up and Minister Lavrov attentively listened to President Zelenskyy as he listed the rudimentary conditions for peace that today’s Russia is not capable of delivering. Moscow’s answer to peace talks was cunningly coordinated: Lavrov’s premature exit and a barrage of rockets.

The tragic development of yesterday is an opportunity to have more G20 leaders come on board to pressure and isolate Russia for its aggressive actions.

And it is inconceivable that any country would decline support to Ukraine today. And yet there are many.



This article is part of a regional project co-sponsored by NATO Public Diplomacy.

Featured image: “missile_on_polish border” (Public Domain) by Thiện Ân

Wojciech Przybylski


Political analyst heading Visegrad Insight's policy foresight on European affairs. His expertise includes foreign policy and political culture. Editor-in-Chief of Visegrad Insight and President of the Res Publica Foundation. Europe's Future Fellow at IWM - Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna and Erste Foundation. Wojciech also co-authored a book 'Understanding Central Europe’, Routledge 2017. He has been published in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, Journal of Democracy, EUObserver, Project Syndicate, VoxEurop, Hospodarske noviny, Internazionale, Zeit, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Onet, Gazeta Wyborcza and regularly appears in BBC, Al Jazeera Europe, Euronews, TRT World, TVN24, TOK FM, Swedish Radio and others.


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