Voices around the world calling for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations need to be amplified rapidly writes Chris Nineham

Tuesday’s missile strike on the village of Przewodow in Poland which killed two civilians caused pandemonium amongst Western governments. An emergency meeting of Western leaders, many of whom were already at the G20 meeting in Indonesia, was convened to discuss the incident.

Stern words were issued about Russian provocations. Polish President, Andrzej Duda, spoke of invoking article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty which allows urgent consultations about responding to threats to any member’s territorial integrity. His statements were taken seriously before anyone knew the facts of the incident. It speaks volumes about the hysteria around the war that it was assumed by much of the Western media, Ukrainian officials and western politicians that this was a Russian strike.

According to Poland’s President, it now seems the fragments were from a Ukrainian missile and officials on the Western side are toning down their rhetoric. Nevertheless, the incident and the immediate response shows that we are on a knife edge. A Russian strike in NATO territory cannot be ruled out, any more than a Ukrainian missile sortie into Russia. The initial Western reaction reveals that in a more serious crisis our leaders cannot be relied on to respond cautiously or responsibly.

With a kind of grim predictability, the incident is being used to push for more military assistance to Ukraine from the West and for measures that would create conditions making such an incident more likely. President Zelensky is arguing for a no-fly zone and the supply of F-15 and F-16 fighters from the West.

Every sensible person knows that if allowed to continue this war will grind on for months if not years and that there can be no winners. Recent Russian strikes have caused civilian deaths and widespread damage to civilian infrastructure. Even hawkish commentators accept that there is likely to be a military stalemate until at least the spring barring some unexpected turn of events. Calls to roll back the Russians from the Crimea threaten endless war, a war whose primary victims would continue to be the Ukrainian people.

This incident shows that what is currently a proxy war has the terrifying potential to escalate suddenly into a fully-fledged confrontation between nuclear armed powers.

The voices around the world calling for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations need to be amplified rapidly in the interests of the peoples of the region and of the world.

16 Nov 2022 by Chris Nineham

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