Monday, May 29, 2023

Ex-US Army Officer Urges Russia To Bomb NATO Bases In Poland That Support Ukraine’s War Efforts

A US military veteran has called for severe Russian retribution by hitting the bases in Poland where Western weapons are received, and Ukrainian fighter aircraft allegedly operate from. 

This is in light of the British-made Storm Shadow cruise missile used to hit factories in Russian-held Lugansk, which the former US Army Captain called “crossing the line.” He demanded Russia shed the “leniency” it has been exercising since the beginning of the war. 

Stanislav Krapivnik, a Russian-American who migrated to the US during the Soviet Union as a child and joined the US Army, has served in NATO missions in Romania. However, during NATO’s invasion of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, he quit and returned to Russia and is now a military affairs commentator. 

Storm Shadow Crossed The Red Line

The Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) reported on May 12 that Ukrainian fighter aircraft used the Storm Shadow missile to carry out their strike on the Polipak Polymer Products Company and the Milam Meat Processing Plant, “destroying nearby residential Buildings and injuring six children.” 

The RuMoD later claimed to have shot down the Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft that fired the missile and the MiG-29 jet “that was covering it.” 

Storm Shadow missiles
Storm Shadow Missiles/Wikimedia Commons

The launch of the Storm Shadow was preceded by a separate attack that took out Russian surface-to-air (SAM) radars. It was later concluded that in this strike, Ukraine employed the US-made ADM-160 MALD decoy missile – used to imitate large military aircraft and fighters by emitting radio signals – that forced Russian air defense radars to be activated.

Baited into revealing their positions, they were struck by the AGM-88 High Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). 

Earlier this month, the UK became the first country to deliver long-range missiles to Ukraine. On the contrary, the US had consistently declined to send land attack missiles with these ranges, particularly the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which can reach 297 km and is fired from the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Washington fears Ukraine might use the missiles to attack Russian territory. 

‘Shed All Restraints’

Krapivnik, who was quoted in the Russian publication Zen, said it was “high time for Russia to bomb the several bases in Poland, from where the few surviving Ukrainian air force jets take off and often receive Western military supplies.”

He also called for Russia to destroy the “remnants of the infrastructure of the Ukrainian Air Force and cut off key supply routes.” He added, the UK “confirmed its long-standing status as the eternal enemy of Russia and allowed the Americans to sit on the sidelines and escalate the conflict,” sending the 250 km-range Storm Shadow to Ukraine is a “crossing of red lines.” 

“The first step is to destroy the air bases where the aircraft carrying the Storm Shadow will be based. As far as I know, even several air bases in Western Ukraine have not yet been destroyed. Units take off from there, but still. This will give us time to destroy planes taking off from Polish airfields. Personally, I believe that the Polish air bases from which our enemy’s planes take off are also our legitimate targets, which must be hit until they are completely destroyed. So we can easily neutralize all such supplies. Destroy the carriers and launch vehicles – and the missiles will lose their meaning. Why we still don’t do this is not clear,” Krapivnik said. 

He added that this would have been a reasonable response from Russia even at the very beginning of the conflict when NATO countries actively armed Ukraine. He then criticized Moscow for its “leniency” and “self-limitations.”

Russia-US
Image for Representation

Hitting Inside Poland Would Trigger NATO Article 5

A simple reason why Russia does not hit bases in NATO countries is because of the NATO Charter’s Article 5. The clause considers an attack on any NATO member nation’s territory as an attack on the entire military bloc, making it legally binding on other member nations to rush to its military aid. 

There has been clear reluctance by both NATO and Russia to directly attack each other and risk a wider war that can rapidly escalate to the nuclear level. 

Meanwhile, Russia lacks the persistent long-range Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) and sensor capability in terms of aircraft and satellites to guide missiles as far into Western Ukraine. 

On the other hand, NATO and US aircraft like the RC-135 Rivet, E-3 Sentry Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C), and RQ-4B Global Hawk are always airborne south of Crimea, lending targetting data for many Ukrainian drone strikes inside Russia and on its Black Sea Fleet. 

Polish Bases

Over the last year, a brief overview of NATO and Polish military support for Ukraine indicates which these bases might be. For instance, the Rzeszow air base in southeast Poland, just 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border, was converted into a regional logistics hub last year earlier in the war. Here, aircraft brought in defense and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Another possible air base could be the 22nd Tactical Air Base at Malbork in northern Poland, from where it operates some of its MiG-29 fighters. This is because the first batch of the four MiG-29s that Poland handed over to Ukraine from its inventory earlier in April was a part of the larger formation of the Polish Air Force at Malbork. 

This is, however, close to the Russian exclave at Kaliningrad and is very far from eastern Poland, close to the Ukrainian border. 

The base closest to the Ukrainian border is the Biala Podlaska airfield which was taken over by the Polish Army in 2020 to be converted into a base for its 18th Mechanized Division.

However, reports suggest that all aviation activities were stopped and the airfield deregistered from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) roster. 

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