Expert: Boosting Ukraine's defense best outcome of Polish missile incident
The optimal outcome of Tuesday's missile incident in Poland would be for NATO to provide even greater supplies of weaponry, air defense systems in particular, to Ukraine, Indrek Kannik, director of think-tank the International Centre for Defense and Security (ICDS), says.
Appearing on ETV morning show "Terevisioon" Wednesday, Kannik said the above: "Would be the perfect solution, since the only thing that will ensure that such incidents - even if it was an accident and it was not the will of the Russians - will not happen again. It will ensure that this war ends with a victory for Ukraine, which is in both our interests and those of Poland."
It is too early to say for sure what type of missile hit the Polish village of Przedwodow, near the Ukrainian border, on Tuesday evening, Kannik went on.
Regardless of whether the missile, which killed two people on impact, was of Ukrainian origin or had been fired by the Russian armed forces, the best solution would be to arm Ukraine more heavily.
"I think that regardless of who the missile had belonged to, a serious discussion on how to further strengthen Ukraine's air defense is needed," Kannik said.
"The Ukrainians were able to down more than 70 missiles out of the hundred that had been fired from Russia, but in respect of such a massive air onslaught, air defenses should be significantly more effective, to ensure that Ukraine's critical infrastructure, especially its energy infrastructure, remains intact," he continued.
"However, this was badly damaged again yesterday. Furthermore, situations where these missiles enter the territory of third countries must be avoided," he went on, referring to Poland.
If it turns out the missile had been Ukrainian, avoiding any tensions between Poland and its eastern neighbor is crucial, he added.
"This is extremely important, since Poland is the second-most important supporter of Ukraine after the US. All the aid operations would not have been possible without the use of Polish territory," he went on.
At the same time, any Ukrainian missile straying into Polish territory would have been the result of an error, since it would obviously not have been deliberately targeting Poland.
In the case of the Ukrainian missile, it is an accident, as the Ukrainian missile was obviously not intended against Poland, he stated. "It is regrettable, in a current situation where Russia is conducting mass air attacks, which seep across the borders of other countries - as already happened in Moldova to an extent."
"If the missile were of Russian forces' origin after all, the most sensible step would be to massively boost the armament of Ukraine," Kannik added, stressing that this was purely his personal opinion. "It would be the easiest solution. Poland is not too interested in getting into a direct military conflict with Russia, just as is the case with the other NATO countries. I think that arming Ukraine strongly, to give it clearly visible superiority over Russian forces, and to facilitate a Ukrainian military victory against Russia, would clearly be the best option for NATO."
In addition, Kannik said, NATO could consider eliminating what he called an artificially set restriction, whereby Ukraine is not permitted to directly attack Russian territory using weapons provided by NATO member states.
"If attacks against Ukraine arise from Russian territory, binding yourself with a restriction that you cannot respond in kind towards the very territory of the country that attacked you is highly restrictive and inconvenient, not to mention incomprehensible, both militarily and politically," he continued.
One of the conclusions which can be drawn from what happened on Tuesday is that, as the war continues, situations like Tuesday's may recur: "It has been stated consistently that there could be unintentional escalation, and in this case the evidence suggests that this was indeed an unintentional escalation," Kannik went on.
In evaluating Russia's initial reactions to the incident, Kannik said that it can be inferred that the Kremlin, too, was also seriously concerned, as it does not want to get into a hot conflict with NATO either.
As to the question of what Estonia's stance should be in the current situation, Kannik answered that this should mirror Poland's to as great an extent as possible. "Poland has better information [regarding the incident] than we do. We have no doubt or reason to believe that the Poles would not act in the best interests of NATO as a whole, and, after exchanging information, we must stand in solidarity with the Poles," he said.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots