#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. In the new Risk, does Poland seek war?

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Something is brewing on the Polish-Ukrainian border. On several occasions Warsaw has asked for the launch of an interposition mission in Ukraine, a NATO peacekeeping mission. This option has been blocked on several occasions by Allied political leaders. Perhaps, however, there could be a plan B that, at least at the beginning, does not foresee a direct Allied participation in such an operation, but only that of the Poles with air cover also by the United States.

Let us begin this game of Risk by saying that in principle, from a purely military point of view, everything could be ready for the actions of the Polish army on Ukrainian soil. The Polish ground forces consist of three mechanised divisions: 12th “Szczecin” in Szczecin, 16th “Pomerania” in Elblag and the newly formed 18th “Iron” named after Tadeusz Buk in Siedlce; an armoured division, the 11th “Lyubuska” in Zagan; two air assault brigades, 6th in Krakow and 25th in Tomaszow; as well as logistic support brigades and regiments, from which groups of about 14-15 combat ready brigades can be formed.

In addition to this, reading the Polish social sphere and the Warsaw mass media, it seems that the Polish military leadership is currently conducting movements that we could define in our hypothetical game, a “secret mobilisation”, hastily reintegrating men and means into the “holes” in the 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade, the 19th Mechanised and the 21st Mountain Infantry of the 18th Mechanised Division.

Moreover, according to media reports, the Polish armed forces are not hiding too much the fact that all this movement is taking place on the eve of the “return to Lviv”. It should be remembered that until the end of the Second World War, Lvov was historically a Polish city, as was the whole of that part of Ukraine.

Moreover, it must be said and added, that at the political level, US President Joe Biden was attributed with a statement that Kiev should accept losses of territory for the sake of peace.

Continuing our game, then, how would the solution of the “Ukrainian question” come about? It could be outside the framework of Polish participation in NATO, a sort of political justification for NATO’s “non-participation” in the conflict. One of the first moves could be the expulsion of Russian diplomats overnight from Warsaw, for example.

Returning to the terrain, on a tactical level, the possible directions of the Polish armed forces to take Lviv – Lvov and some other large, historically Polish cities can be traced in Galicia in six main directions, which we hypothesise below: Starovoitovo – Kovel, Vladimir-Volynsky – Lutsk, Rava-Russkaya – Lvov, Yavorov – Lvov, Sheginy – Lvov, Khyrov – Lviv.

There are common features: all presented directions do not exceed 60-80 km in depth, taking into account the time in which battalion tactical groups must overcome difficult road sectors, advance columns with military equipment, logistics therefore, there remains a time window of only four hours in which Polish units can reach the indicated lines in the vicinity of Kovel, Lutsk and Lvov; before the Ukrainian or Russian reaction; in this case it would be airborne as the Russian forces have control of the skies.

In this regard, it should be noted that for more than a month, the XVIII Corps of the US Armed Forces has been deployed in the area, consisting of brigade combat groups of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, as well as combat support and logistics units. the most powerful USAF group has been created in Poland. It was only a few days ago that 14 F-15E fighters from the USAF’s 494th Fighter Squadron flew to Lask Air Base in Poland to reinforce the USAF’s 336th Fighter Squadron, which has been in Poland for more than a month. The moves of such a presence are easy to imagine and we leave it to you to roll the dice.

However, it is difficult to imagine what Kiev’s reaction will be to the entry of the Polish army into Lviv. If Warsaw wants to sell it as a peacekeeping mission (it would be better to say peace-enforcing mission given the nature of the theatre in which it is entering, and the question of a possible UN mandate remains open), however, the Ukrainian nationalists, to be understood as the groups that follow the model of the Azov Brigade, could “misunderstand” the Polish intentions, and possibly the US (NATO would not be involved for the moment, somewhat on the model of the Coalition of the Willing for Iraq), and react directly against the Poles, unleashing something that closely resembles the widespread conflict of the Balkan model. Polish peacekeeping could be interpreted as a second anti-Ukrainian operation, similar to Moscow’s vaunted ‘denazification’.

Such a move, in our game, would be a gamble, to say the least, given that Zelensky does not control the Ukrainian nationalist militias, albeit framed on paper as part of the National Guard, with the consequences that we leave you to draw for yourself here too.

Another factor to take into account in this game of ours is Romania. Bucharest “on 16 July 2021, gave the green light to the implementation of a plan, which according to the Romanian media is from the United States of America, to create a future joint Romanian-Ukrainian army,” the Romanian media report.

“As a result, the Romanian and Ukrainian armies will resort to “package” purchases and joint production of military equipment. A joint commission will also establish procedures for implementing the furthest-reaching provision of the agreement initially signed on 5 September 2020 between Kiev and Bucharest and approved by the Romanian Senate on 22 June 2021. This is about joint protection and exchange of classified information, reports National. A treaty that is, at the moment, today being taken to court by a number of Romanian NGOs, such as Casd, because it would violate the constitution.

Moreover, the Romanian press, such as Antena3, reported on 7 March that: “The government is preparing to introduce a state of crisis in Romania. It is claimed that ‘this will not have an effect on the population, but rather on national security and defence decisions’. Therefore, the structures of the Ministry of National Defence will be able to be subordinated to foreign armed forces stationed on Romanian territory or to NATO commands’. The bill has not yet been approved, and civil society organisations are also fighting over it.

Romania, in practice, in the new scenario, on which we are playing, has a key role in the management of security and in the new policy of containtment together with Warsaw, i.e. Poland.

The United States currently has six military bases in Romania for which it has allocated 363.7 million dollars over 20 years (2000 – 2019), according to the Quincy Institute in New York.

What would Russia do in all this? Putin has been clear about interference of all kinds.

Antonio Albanese