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EDITORIAL: As Ukrainian President Zelensky celebrated Russian troop withdrawal from Kherson Poland came under a missile attack on Tuesday that killed two farmers in a village near its border with Ukraine. Although the question who fired the missiles hitting one of the NATO members has no definitive answer as yet, there is a near consensus that these were Russian-made weapons.

War has ravaged Ukraine for nine months during which the NATO member-states generously helped Kiev by supplying both material and political help, but there had not been an incident suggesting that the Russian invasion of non-NATO Ukraine would spill over into Poland or any other NATO country bordering Ukraine. Moscow knows very well that an attack of any kind on the territory of NATO member-states would justify the targeted country to invoke Article 4 of the treaty and secure effective response by the military alliance.

Given this compelling liability the NATO governments were put on the alert. At the Bali island of Indonesia the G20 states met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit and tried to look through the details of the incident as reported to them by then. They were of the view that the said missiles were indeed Russian-made, but they treated the allegation or claim that it was a planned Russian strike with scepticism. “No conclusive evidence”, remarked US President Joe Biden while Russia said “it’s a deliberate attempt in order to escalate the situation”.

That the NATO members have been supplying Ukraine with weapons that Ukrainian military effectively deployed against Russian troops and that helped it recover quite a big chunk of territory from the invaders’ writ is a fact. They have also been generous in doling out financial assistance that has placed Ukraine in comfortable position.

While during his visit to the ‘recaptured’ Kherson, President Zelensky had said the delivery of rockets from the United Sates had made a big difference for Kiev. But there hasn’t been any border crossing by Russian troops into NATO-defended territories, creating obstacles on Ukraine’s path to NATO membership.

The Treaty governments are reluctant to induct into their military alliance a country which is already at war with Russia. Insofar as the missile strike on a Polish village is concerned, one of the possibilities is that it could be a case of malfunctioning of missiles, and therefore not a just cause to fight Russia. The situation gives birth to a profound question: Is President Zelensky himself for an armed conflict between the NATO states and Russia?

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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