I asked one of the war correspondents covering the situation from Kyiv, “What is your take on the current military situation? Have the Russians halted their offensive? Do the Ukrainians have the forces they need to launch a counter-attack?” His answer was very short: “The Russians are trickling through.”
This summary mirrors what the experts from the Institute of Eastern Studies in Warsaw are reporting.
The Russians are trickling slowly but surely. They might force Belarus into attempting a southward offensive along the western border of Ukraine, which would mean putting the main corridor where help is being sent over the Polish border to aid the valiant defense of Ukraine in danger. It seems that Alexander Lukashenko is hesitant to commence such an operation, but we cannot be certain that he is even in charge of the Belarusian army.
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It would be a devastating blow to Ukraine at a time when Russia has accomplished a number of its own goals; the Russian army has stretched itself thin, launching offensives in a multiple location, and more importantly, they have shown that they are beatable.
There’s one important factor in all of this — time is of the essence.
The West’s window of opportunity is still open, but it will be starting to close. The world will get used to war, the Russophiles will raise their voice once again, the call for peace will be stronger than the support for Ukraine, and the determination of the Ukrainian people might start wavering — this is just how society works nowadays.
That considered, the proposal of sending a peace mission was made at the right time. It does not matter that we are “overstepping.” Who else could have put this agenda on the table, if not Poland? For who else is this war essentially a war for its own independence, for its own security?
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We Poles know what inaction in the face of aggression leads to. We also know that acting is necessary during historical moments like this one. “Lack of consultation” with allies is another example of an empty accusation. If we were to wait for permission from everyone, we would be waiting forever.
The Polish proposal will be debated at the special NATO summit in Brussels. The first reactions are surprisingly positive, including the American one, and signal that others are open to the plan. That gives hope. The times are so extraordinary that actions need to be quick, bold and ingenious.
This is a historical moment. Our fate is at stake and the only result to being passive is a great defeat. We need to rise up and act so we can at least get closer to success. If we don’t do anything we will be remembered by the next generations by our inability to act.
Today, “romanticism” is the new realism. That goes well in line with the unofficial Polish motto: “For our freedom and yours.”