Monday, 23 May 2022 — The Van says…
Relations between the two nations might be on the up, but looking at Kiev’s predicament, it could drag both of them down.
In a meeting between the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Polish president Andrzej Duda, an agreement has been finalized bringing their two nations closer together. Whilst the finer details are not yet in the public domain, matters do need clarifying in order that some understanding can be made as to how this change in relations will affect the situation both in and out of the Ukraine.
Side by Side
It is hardly surprising that it would be Poland who would attempt to bring ties between Warsaw and Kiev closer, there being not only a great deal of history between the two nations, but that it has been Poland that has given greatest support to US operations in Europe for decades. The Polish premier stated that:
‘I am deeply convinced that it is time to conclude a new treaty on good neighborliness, which will take into account what we have built in our relations, at least in recent months. The current situation in Ukraine has shown that the network of roads, railways and other types of transport links between Ukraine and Poland are not working well enough. The Polish-Ukrainian border should unite, not divide.’
One nation that should not be in the EU being assisted by the one nation that has put Washington before Brussels is par for the course in the current climate, attempts being made to spread the heat in the new Cold War.
After a well-choreographed meeting involving rapturous applause and back-slapping, it is now clear that Warsaw has drafted laws granting Ukrainian refugees the rights to reside, work and claim social security payments in Poland.
In return, Poles will be able to hold office, both electoral and military, be able to access classified data, be judges and the Polish police will be permitted to monitor law and order in the country. Additionally, Poles can hold a ‘special legal status’ which will be granted to Polish nationals who for whatever reason wish to go to the Ukraine, they being able to live and work under the same regime.
Warsaw has also offered to place all pressure possible in Brussels to ensure that the Ukraine becomes a member state of the EU as soon as possible, yet this comes on the same day that French politicians have stated that this would not be possible for at least fifteen years.
With Duda making the moves he has, this means that his country of under forty million people which is still recovering from the pandemic is suddenly taking another three million hungry mouths, it defying explanation how this can be sustained for any length of time at all. It is understandable that any nation would want to help refugees, yet looking at some of the Ukrainians who have already arrived in Poland, one doubts what use they would have to any country other than as cheap labor. Looking at things the other way around, quite why any Pole would want to live in the Ukraine is questionable, and other than working as mercenaries or undertakers, one suspects that the Ukrainian labor market has little to offer. With the consequences of war now examined, we now need to look a little closer at the increasing interest NATO states have with the conflict.
Stories surfaced yesterday that have not yet been substantiated claiming that Polish troops are now on Ukrainian soil and making their way to Adveyevka. If this it is to be believed, they could be either mercenaries or part of the army under orders from Warsaw. If Duda was to deploy government assets in the Ukraine against Russian forces, he may attempt to use his country’s membership of NATO to leverage his position. The stories, reported by @wargonzo stated that ‘two battalions of Polish infantry had left Kiev and arrived in Pavlograd. Each battalion has 4 Rapira anti-tank guns, armored personnel carriers and American armored cars. At present, the Polish infantry is being prepared for the transfer to the Avdeevsky front. Whether we are talking about regular troops or mercenaries, it is difficult to say now. But in any case, the appearance of these data against the background of Zelensky’s dances with the Rada regarding the participation of foreign contingents in hostilities looks quite logical.’
Today sources claim that Zelensky has requested that Duda send his troops to Western Ukraine in order to free up troops to be used on the eastern front.
In order to look at how an operation involving Polish government forces against Russia would implicate NATO, we must recourse to Article Five.
This is one of the fundamental cornerstones of NATO, it being the big stick which both Washington and Brussels love to wield if any threat to either becomes apparent. Whilst the matter in hand concerns Poland, any NATO member involved in this or any other conflict outside of the Atlantic Alliance’s borders would be looking at an identical situation. The text reads as follows:
‘The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.’
As straightforward as this may seem at first glance, we need to look a little further if we wish to understand this matter fully.
There are certain key points that need to be examined in order that we make sense of the text as a whole. We shall use the Merriam-Webster dictionary to look at individual definitions.
‘to set upon or work against forcefully’ or
‘to begin to affect or to act on injuriously’.
‘the act of defending oneself, one’s property, or a close relative’.
The North Atlantic Area.
The only coast that bordered the Ukraine was that of the Azov and Black Seas, neither of which are either part of nor border the North Atlantic.
From the above definitions, we can arrive at the following conclusions.
If the Polish (or any other) government decides to enter an extant conflict of its own choice and outside of either its borders or those of NATO, this cannot be construed even by the most twisted of logic as an act of defense.
Some NATO members would want to walk back more than seventy years of charters in order to fight Russia, yet other members of an already fractured alliance are not going to want the foundations of the organization to be twisted in order to fight in a war of Washington’s making.
Put simply, Article Five simply cannot aid Warsaw, Poland not being able to call others to aid it if a crusade of its own choice against Russia goes horribly wrong.
If Warsaw was to deploy assets in-theater to assist Kiev, even under the auspices of peacekeeping, Moscow would considered these a legitimate military target. From the Kremlin’s standpoint, anything that is not Ukrainian should not be there and will be dealt with accordingly. Whilst Russia’s Special Operation has made every effort to reduce casualties and damage wherever possible, a combination of crass decisions from Kiev and wargames from Warsaw will eventually result in the Russian Federation taking off the gloves to anyone getting in the ring, the gradual collapse of the Ukraine also making itself felt further afield.
With the Ukraine now being a lost cause, one could be forgiven for thinking that should Duda intervene, he may have lost the plot. Already saddled with three million immigrants in his country, he could saddle his country with the burden of a war as well. Poland may have been a best friend to Washington for years, but would the Poles really want to be at odds with their neighbors in the interests of a failed conflict? More pointedly, with many European states having given the arms they have to Kiev, would they be in a position to fight effectively even if they wanted to?
Whilst Russia has been slow in its progress, it has only used a fraction of its resources to gain the results that it wanted. Should Poland or any other nation enter the fray, it will be outside of the remit of NATO whilst causing consequences within. The Bear has already come out of its cave, but we’ll have to see whether neighboring states want it to rampage across Europe…