What is needed is a NATO peacekeeping mission that will also be able to defend itself," Deputy Prime Minister for Security Jaroslaw Kaczyński proclaimed during a visit to Kyiv. Does the Polish government really want to go to war with Russia?
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The mountain gave birth to a mouse. As the train carrying Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, his Czech and Slovenian counterparts Petr Fiala and Janez Janša made its way through Ukraine, there was a buzz in Poland over the groundbreaking significance of their visit to Kiev. For President Volodymyr Zelensky, it was certainly an important moment. For the first time since the start of the Russian invasion, he spoke to the leaders of EU countries not through a videoconference but face to face. For Ukrainians, the unexpected visit was a symbolic gesture of solidarity.

Unfortunately, the positives ended there.

Kaczyński, Morawiecki, Fiala and Janša arrived empty-handed. They had - contrary to what PiS politicians in Poland announced - no mandate from the European Council, no support package for Ukraine. There are times, of course, when words are more important than actions. Morawiecki's call for Ukraine to be granted candidate status for EU membership as soon as possible made for a powerful statement. This despite the fact that Morawiecki heads a government dedicated to fighting the EU and has himself threatened the EU with a "third world war." Finally and permanently anchoring an independent Ukraine in a European port is far more important than the PiS government's disputes with the EU over rule of law violations in Poland.

But the visit in Kyiv also included a statement that should not have been made. Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of PiS and the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the security portfolio, appealed to the conscience of politicians in the West by suggesting sending NATO forces to Ukraine. - I think that there is a need for a NATO peacekeeping mission, or possibly even a mission of some broader international agreement. By that I mean such a mission that will also be able to defend itself and which will operate on the territory of Ukraine," he said after the meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky. It is hard to believe that the most important politician in Poland does not realize that such a move would mark the beginning of NATO's war with Russia.

Does Kaczynski want to risk a missile attack on Warsaw?

Kaczynski did not invent NATO peacekeeping forces. Alliance troops performed such a function in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, and continue to do so today in Kosovo. NATO operates on the basis of a UN mandate. The decision to commit Alliance forces was made by the Security Council, on which Russia sits. To send NATO troops to Ukraine, of course, Russia's consent will not be given. Once the allied forces cross the Ukrainian border, they will become a target for the Russians. The Baltic countries and Poland will become frontline countries in such a scenario. Admittedly, the ground troops of the Russian army - so far - are suffering defeats in Ukraine. NATO's military beats the Russians in terms of command, reconnaissance, logistics, and interoperability with other types of troops. In all these respects, the Russian military in Ukraine is failing. But most Russian missiles achieve their targets in Ukraine nonetheless. Would Kaczynski really want to risk a missile attack on Warsaw?

NATO leaders are not going to take that risk for now. That's why they are rejecting Zelensky's demand to designate a no-fly zone over the country. That is why NATO reconnaissance planes fly a few dozen kilometers from the Belarusian and Ukrainian borders. The Americans, in order not to provoke the Russians, even canceled the test of an intercontinental missile that was supposed to take place a couple of weeks ago. And so far they have not agreed to accept Polish Mig-29s to hand them over to Ukraine. What NATO has for the Ukrainians is supplies of increasingly sophisticated weapons. The European Union, on the other hand, offers money. In addition, devastating sanctions have been imposed on Russia that will sink the country economically. That must be enough for Ukraine at the moment.

Meanwhile, during a symbolic visit in the Ukrainian capital, Kaczyński is calling on NATO to end its restraint and go into full confrontation with Russia. The cost of such a turnaround would be borne first by Poland. Did Kaczynski not realize this?

Under PiS, Poland’s importance in the EU has dramatically dwindled. Warsaw carries much less weight than its size would suggest. This is the effect of Kaczyński's anti-democratic policy, the destruction of independent courts, the restriction of media freedom, the persecution of minorities - a policy that in many places parallels the actions of Vladimir Putin. In NATO, Poland has somehow maintained its status as a country that thinks seriously about its security. The foolish statement of Kaczyński, a deputy Prime Minister nominally in charge of overseeing defense policy, calls this into question.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and its humanitarian impact. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

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