On the first day of August, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization faced a challenge it had not seen for a long time. At present, NATO is failing to deal effectively with this challenge.
On the first day of August, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization faced a challenge it had not seen for a long time.
At present, NATO is failing to deal effectively with this challenge.
A pair of mysterious helicopters appeared over Białowieża - three kilometers from the border with Belarus. - We saw two Belarusian helicopters flying by - says Marcin Wojciechowski, a tourist from Busko-Zdrój. According to witnesses, the helicopters came from the south, then turned towards the village of Podolany, where they made a loop and flew towards the border. They flew slowly, less than a hundred meters above the ground. They spent at least ten minutes in Polish airspace. They were seen by many tourists and residents of Białowieża. They took pictures. They notified the Border Patrol. They called 112.
- He was a bit surprised when I told him that Russian helicopters. He asked if I had any photos. I tell him that I recognize the red star from the red and white chessboard. So I say: "Either Ruthenian or Belarusian. We are with Belarus, it's rather Belarusian." He took the call and we hung up. After ten minutes, the police arrived - reports Michał Cieślak, a restaurateur from Białowieża.
Separately, it should be emphasized that this is a challenge for the Alliance in general, and not only for Poland, whose border with Belarus was breached on the morning of August 1 by two military helicopters.
These helicopters formally belong to the Belarusian army and have their own identification, but the main city where the reaction to this incident is monitored is not Minsk, but Moscow.
Around noon another helicopter arrived. This time probably Polish. - After an hour or two, ours was already flying. I don't know if it's ours or not, but high. He was circulating all the time - recalls Wincenty Buszko, a resident of Białowieża.
On Tuesday morning, the RSZ Operational Command denied information about foreign helicopters over Poland, claiming that it was a training flight on the Belarusian side. - Operations Command knew about it. The Belarusians even directly informed that there will be three helicopters that will fly in the border area - notes the retired general Bogusław Pacek, director of the Institute of Security and International Development, former commander-rector of the National Defense University in Warsaw-Rembertów.
And for Moscow, it is important that it is not just about violating the Polish border, but the protected and glorified "NATO eastern flank", whose protection was guaranteed by the United States. The more so that Poland is protected by a NATO division by American troops on high alert. The incident of August 1, left without an adequate reaction, is therefore a clear signal to the Kremlin: further rate hikes are possible with impunity. NATO and the US will limit themselves to "concern".
After the helicopter scandal, Moscow was additionally convinced that the Alliance was ready to turn a blind eye even to the actions of the Russian Federation bordering on aggression - just so as not to anger the Kremlin.
So there is no doubt that Russia will continue to raise the stakes. Because they let her. Therefore, there will be further, even greater provocations.
And the most disturbing thing is that the White House is able to do otherwise. Last year, Washington once plucked up the courage to publicly and sharply respond to Russian blackmail from a position of strength - and then it worked, Russia withdrew. This story is about Moscow's nuclear blackmail that has practically been stopped.
But for some reason, this success is not mentioned now. Instead, fear and caution appear to have become the basis of US and NATO policy towards Russia.