In the interview with Ippen, the Eastern European correspondent looks from Poland to the war in Ukraine and the reaction to a possible attack on NATO territory.
Warsaw – With Eastern European correspondent Aleksandra Fedorska from Poland IPPEN.MEDIA on the war in Ukraine * and on the role of NATO. How does Vladimir Putin * want to rule a destroyed country? What happens when a missile crosses the NATO border? And what does a world before 1989 mean for the Federal Republic?
What demands and expectations does Poland have towards NATO in view of the war in Ukraine?
Poland is a NATO member and not exactly irrelevant. Here, on NATO’s eastern flank, Poland is the largest country and the center of an entire region. Expectations are the expectations of each member: that if you are attacked, the whole alliance will defend you. Now the president of the United States is on his way to Poland and thus to the eastern flank of NATO. Visitors from the presidents of the United States are highly anticipated in Poland, they are important. Every president of the United States has visited Poland, obviously also because of its importance for the whole region. This is a communication hub for all important issues in the Eastern European region.
Of course, he also comes here to visit Poland in this special situation. There are over two million people from Ukraine here. What is happening right now borders on a state of emergency. By visiting him, Biden supports the war refugees. I think what he particularly wants in Poland is to talk a lot, to discuss a lot with the representatives of Poland, but also with the representatives of an entire region.
Putin is destroying cities, infrastructures, industry in Ukraine and in the areas he wants to have as an area of influence: how does he want to govern a destroyed country?
I wonder the same thing. How do you govern a country that has been bled to death? From which people has he fled, in which one stands before the ruins? If you’ve already starved cities before? Putin shoots in hospitals, shoots on purpose in schools. What we hear from the women and children who have fled here to Poland is simply terrible. But we have seen in the past what the Putin regime is capable of. We lived through the second Chechen war. Grozny was a completely destroyed city. This means that there are incomprehensible decisions in the Kremlin, which seem impossible. I don’t know how you imagine it.
What if a missile crosses NATO’s border into Poland?
Oh, a very drastic scenario of course. Since Poland is part of NATO, this is an attack on the alliance pact. Article 5 will therefore apply: the alliance will defend anyone who is attacked. And then, I believe, there will be a military confrontation. I can’t imagine it any other way. For us, for the civilian population, I assume that, like Ukraine today, we will move west. People who came from Ukraine, as well as Poles. We would move towards Germany, just as the Ukrainians moved towards the west, that is, towards Poland.
Is the Polish population afraid of such a scenario?
The fear was greatest in the first days after the invasion. At the moment you don’t really have the space for your fears because you absorb the pain and fears of the Ukrainian people. Currently, a lot is about dealing with the daily lives of over two million people. I could briefly describe a scene from this morning: I met a friend in front of my house and I asked him why he was leaving so early and he told me that he took care of people at the train station at night. People go to the central station to welcome people, take care of them, feed them, give them the first information.
Information is very important right now. How do I go on? Where is the nearest doctor? Where will I be fed? And that’s what normal people do. An entire city does it, or at the moment an entire country does it. At the moment we don’t have much space to take care of ourselves and our fears, which of course are there.
How do you govern a country that has been bled to death? From which people has he fled, in which one stands before the ruins? If you’ve already starved cities before?
As for disinformation: how much do you currently estimate this problem in the war in Ukraine?
The problem is certainly there. It is likely to get even bigger as there is a whole wealth of information out there. A whole sea of quick information that can’t be checked at all. About two weeks ago, there were the first signs of increasing disinformation to deliberately create an atmosphere, an atmosphere of fear at the collection points: there are some cities where trains from Ukraine arrive, where buses arrive. But the reaction was very good because it quickly became clear how to react.
We journalists here on site, my work colleagues from other editorial offices and even those who work as freelancers try to clarify. This is especially true for Facebook, of course, and also for Twitter. That is to say, if you get a message like this or read something like this, check it at least twice. And you shouldn’t get too emotionally involved, because that’s what this news wants.
Alexandra, to conclude: If Putin wants to create a world like before 1989, what does it mean for Germany?
A world before 89 is a Cold War world, a divided world. Poland, but also East Germany, belonged to the Warsaw Pact at the time, so they were not part of the West, they were not part of the free world. It would be tragic for Europe. Everything we have created, including the reunification of Germany, would be under negotiation because these are events that took place after ’89.
However, I may not want to go that far. Despite all her cruelty, Russia does not really achieve military success. The front seems to hold up at least so far. This means that Russia does not have the necessary military strength to defeat a NATO member. At the moment, according to experts, the Russian military could not compete with a NATO country. She just doesn’t have the potential for that. But, and I want to emphasize this, if you wait longer, a year, a year and a half, Russia will learn from these experiences. So we don’t know what the future holds if Putin tries to attack other Western countries.
This war was not optimally prepared by Russia. This applies to the structure, to the number of weapons, but above all, and it is this that particularly surprises the Eastern European experts, that Russia did not enlist enough soldiers in the army a year and a half ago. The army is actually short-handed to conquer and even more so to hold a country like Ukraine. Why didn’t Putin do it? The reasons for this can probably be found in Russian domestic politics. He has risked a lot and from a purely military point of view he now looks weak. Try cruelty, hunger, a war of annihilation. But that probably won’t pave the way for his victory over Ukraine. So, if we as NATO feel threatened, it is not a scenario for this year or for the next year. This is something that could threaten us in the future.
(aka) * Merkur.de is an offer of IPPEN.MEDIA.
Interview with the Eastern Europe expert: correspondent Aleksandra Fedorska talks about Russian President Vladimir Putin, the dramatic situation at the border and European unity.