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Missile strike on Poland illustrates how precarious the war is in Ukraine



Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: PA

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: PA

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo: PA

‘Yet another hysterical, rabidly Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real information,” was how Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson dismissed claims of Moscow’s responsibility for the deaths of two people in Poland.

Dmitry Peskov may scoff, but had Russia not illegally invaded Ukraine and unleashed a firestorm on its cities this week, such wounded indignation might have been understandable.

With so much blood on their hands, and having demonstrated a disregard for danger, it sounded preposterous. Russia has already fired on one of the biggest nuclear power plants in the world. Moscow long ago forfeited the benefit of any doubt.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg indicated it is unlikely the missile was Russian. But he was clear Moscow bears ultimate responsibility for what happened because it was a direct result of the war, and the latest wave of attacks on its neighbour.

Being wrong is one thing, staying wrong is another. Details about the incident may be sketchy, but it has once again highlighted how criminally dangerous this war is. Tweaking frayed nerves with so much international volatility and crazily playing roulette, with nuclear catastrophe as a side bet, is not something that can be reasonably tolerated.

Moscow is courting disaster. Hotlines across the planet were on alert after the initial reports of the deaths in Poland.

Fortunately, this time there was no hair-trigger response. But the alarm has again reminded us we are only one explosion away from this conflict snowballing into a much wider confrontation between Moscow and the US-led Nato alliance.

When accusations fly and anger rises, who is to say such cool heads will prevail in the future?

Analysts were also quick to point out how the blast underscores that while containing the war to Ukrainian land is a policy priority for most of the Nato alliance, it must be a national security imperative for those on the country’s western border.

Any spillover for them will be seen as inseparable from direct involvement.

Understanding this distinction illustrates how we may be only a miscalculation away from a global conflagration. When Russian troops recently retreated from Kherson, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan called it a “big moment”.

Surely at some point soon, sanity has to be given a chance; equating diplomatic engagement with surrender is a mistake.

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By now it must be evident even to the delusional Putin that his hopes of annexing Ukraine are dashed. All this disastrous escapade has done is expose the weakness of his military, cratered his economy and left his country desperately isolated.

The war is ruinously expensive for both sides. With a worldwide recession about to descend, the squandering of billions on further death and destruction becomes all the more diabolical,

It is already estimated it will cost one trillion dollars to rebuild Ukraine. Every day the war continues, risks can only escalate and prospects of resolution recede.

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