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War in Ukraine. What would a Ukraine defeat mean for Poland?

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But is this turn of events – this final victory of the Russians – Is it worth considering in terms of a real threat? Looking at the current capabilities of the Russian army – no. Putin's war machine cannot destroy the armed forces Ukrainy and impose occupation on the entire country.

There are many indications that we are currently observing the peak of both military and economic efficiency Russia. Meanwhile, Ukraine is defending itself fiercely, and Russian territorial gains are less than symbolic.

Countable and unpredictable

So why bother with the idea of ​​”Russes at the Gates”? For example, to emphasize the validity of further assistance to Ukraine and to unite a broader coalition around this project. The belief in the need to support Kiev has not been given once and for all. Even Poles – still extremely pro-Ukrainian – they no longer have such enthusiasm for maintaining the Ukrainian war effort, because “how much can you do?” and “how much does it cost?”.

And there is also the requirement to take into account unrealistic scenarios – resulting from intellectual honesty (but not only that, as I write later in the text). Ultimately, we are talking about a war that, despite its quantifiable and measurable nature, it is also characterized by a significant degree of unpredictability.

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It is now difficult for me to point out the variables that could lead to a sudden collapse of the Ukrainian defense operation, but I cannot definitively rule out such a scenario. So what if?

Feeling threatened

No, I don't believe that Putin's army would invade next Polish. To put it bluntly, the Russians are too weak for this (a conflict with NATO) – and they probably always will be. But they are strong enough – and would be strong enough after a possible victory over Ukraine – to maintain the sense of threat of another war. Of course, they can do it now – and to a limited extent they do – because they have access to us from the north, from the Königsberg region, and partly from the east, from Belarus.

But Ukraine absorbs Russia's potential to such an extent that it deprives its threats of credibility. For these to have more “binding force”, the army must be stationed at the border. If there is a large number of this army and the border itself is much longer, then it will be easier for Russians to scare people.

Scaring Poles and the international community would inevitably have negative consequences. Existential uncertainty would fuel emigration – internal and external – extinguished a significant part of economic activity on the eastern borders of the Republic of Poland, in fact, Poland's status as a high-risk country would mean a sharp decline in foreign investments and the withdrawal of a large part of the existing capital.

Initiated by Moscow the migration crisis that we are dealing with on the border with Belarus would affect other areas of the Republic of Poland. It would force the services to make even greater organizational efforts, and the state to do so further investments in border security.

Declining quality of life

And yet these would not be the only additional costs. A dozen or so days ago, the government announced the implementation of the program “Shield East“, which envisages the construction of fortifications and terrain obstacles at the Polish-Russian and Polish-Belarusian borders. It is expected to take three years and cost PLN 10 billion. Well, now let's imagine that “Shield…” has to cover more areas and that we don't have the comfort of a lot of time because “the Russians are already here.”

Their presence and the dangerous and more unfavorable arrangement of borders would also force haste in other security-related areas. We have been buying a lot recently, rearming the army with better quality equipment, but it has been decades of neglect and the scope of necessary modernization make us have a “powder” army.

The old equipment sent to Ukraine is no longer available, and the new equipment is largely missing. We are painstakingly rebuilding the capabilities of the defense industry, still allowing itself to finance other projects at the expense of the defense industry. In the discussed scenario, non-defense public expenditure would be significantly reduced. The perceived quality of life of Poles would undoubtedly decline.

Shooting cold

Many young people would have been put in booties. The war in Ukraine shows how important it is to have numerous reserves. Poland does not have them because we suspended compulsory military service 16 years ago. From time to time there is talk about the need to restore this obligation, but politicians lack courage and will.

Most Poles do not want to take on such an obligation – that's why it ends with words. In the reality of “Russians at the gates” there would be no room for fussing about the “zetka”.

And these are just some of the inconveniences. Someone might argue that there is no point in accepting them if the likelihood of war with Russia would be slim anyway. Let me draw an analogy. Well, the risk of war is like the risk of a plane crash – even if it is low, close to zero, still – due to the possible consequences – they should be taken very seriously.

Airplane accidents are rare, but many people die as a result. Likewise with wars. So it wouldn't be (and isn't!) any whim “playing it safe”, securing, reinforcing or fortifying.

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Mirosława Nykiel: The campaign is a festival of promises/RMF24.pl/RMF

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