At the beginning of the night there was horror: What if the Russians actually fired rockets at the NATO state Poland? Relief in the morning: It was obviously not the Russians, the alliance case has been cancelled. But there is not only good news.
There is good news and bad news. First the good news: No, it wasn’t the night the world was on the brink as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine. The reason: the principle of prudence has triumphed. You can thank the Poles and the Americans for that.
It is also true that Moscow’s first statement that it had nothing to do with the rocket impact in eastern Poland has apparently turned out to be correct. Under former secret service agent Vladimir Putin, the Russians have declared lying to be a stratagem. But this night showed that Moscow doesn’t just lie.
But the night also showed that Western countries no longer believe the Russians, and the many wartime lies – they began even before February 24, the day Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine – have destroyed all trust. That is why the West, with the Americans leading the way, insisted on using their own means to investigate the matter.
The first of the leaders gathered at the G-20 summit in Bali to say they wanted to believe the Russians was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We do not know whether he actually believed the Russians. He is said to have only said it – how exactly, the statements have so far differed.
In any case: Erdogan’s tactic is to stay in the game internationally. The autocrat from Ankara dreams of mediating the Ukraine war. His pro-Russian statements from the night are what footballers call a dust-off goal.
Joe Biden, the old, sometimes a little unsteady but experienced, US President then took it upon himself to make the statement to the world public that it was probably a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that crashed on Poland. And killed two people. It is unlikely that the Russians would have fired the deadly weapon.
Biden is the most experienced foreign policymaker in the world – he knows exactly what it takes to put out a fire as a top diplomat. Because, and one must also state this: At the time of Biden’s statement, which relieved the Russians of the accusation that they had attacked a NATO country with their missiles, it was not yet entirely clear what exactly happened in eastern Poland. So far it hasn’t.
The Chinese are now saying that the world should calm down again – a declaration that corresponds to Beijing’s desired role on the international stage. China wants to stage itself as a peace-loving trading nation – and uses the excited night accordingly. To distract for a moment from having caused – and still do – cause enough concern myself. Key word: Taiwan.
And the government of Ukraine? Fifty minutes after the Biden statement, at just before four in the morning, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov is calling for a no-fly zone to be established over Ukraine. At the beginning of the war, Ukraine demanded “to close the heavens” from the West, i.e. NATO. NATO turned it down because it doesn’t want to be a “part of the war”, meaning it doesn’t want to be directly involved in the battles. Now, however, this key Ukrainian demand is hanging in the air.
If it was actually a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that killed Polish citizens, then at least that doesn’t justify NATO’s establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The same applies to further deliveries of arms, such as tanks from Germany. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, leader of the “Team Prudence”, can feel vindicated by the course of the night.
One can find more forceful arms deliveries to Ukraine – such as the informal Ukraine-Jamaica coalition of Union, FDP and Greens – to be right, but as I said: they cannot be causally justified with the events of the night. In any case, the fact that the Ukrainian defense minister tried to do this will not increase the trust of the administration in Washington.
The good news is that, as stated in the final communiqué, the vast majority of the most important industrialized countries are no longer sympathetic to the Russian attack. For example, Russia can no longer rely on India’s unreserved support. This also applies to what is possibly the most important “player” on the pitch: China.
It is hard to overstate the fact that President Xi Jinping and Biden condemned any Russian threat of nuclear weapons and let the world know as much. Because it can be assumed that Xi also let his – tactical – ally Putin know this.
And now the bad news:
After their drastic and demonstrative defeat at Cherson in southeastern Ukraine, the Russians exacted revenge. And attacked civilians and civilian facilities in Ukraine with 100 rockets. Kyiv spent last night in darkness. There was an air raid alarm again in the morning. War in itself is bad. What the Russians make of it is even worse.
Putin is thus consolidating his country’s reputation as a pariah state. The G-20 condemned – accordingly – the “barbaric act”.
It is a unique event in the Ukraine war: Two Russian missiles apparently landed in a village in NATO country Poland on Tuesday, killing two people. FOCUS online Russia expert Herfried Münkler explains what reactions from the West can now be expected.
Putin wants to tighten control of the flow of funds to equip the army. Trenches in Crimea can be seen on satellite images. According to a US general, more than 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured in Ukraine so far. All current voices and developments on the Ukraine war can be found in the ticker.
After the recapture of Cherson, the question for military expert Mike Martin is not what Russia will do now – it is Ukraine’s turn for him. On Twitter he shows how the war could continue. His guess: Ukraine is targeting the “gravitational center of Putin’s credibility.”