The precise chain of events doesn’t matter. Whether the missile that landed in the Polish border village of Przewodów yesterday was, as President Joe Biden, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and other NATO officials have suggested, the result of a Ukrainian antimissile defense barrage, or whether it was, as some initially suspected, a Russian targeting mistake makes no difference. The real cause of this explosion and the deaths of two people is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that has already devolved into an advanced form of state terrorism.
Usually, terrorist tactics are pursued by small bands of extremists or revolutionaries, not by established states that aspire to world influence. Russia is using them now because the Russian president knows he is losing this war, and in many different ways. Russia’s army is losing on the battlefield; Russia’s government is losing diplomatically. Russia’s leader is losing politically too. Vladimir Putin chose not to attend the G20 meeting in Bali this week, perhaps because he knew he would be shunned by many leaders there, and perhaps because he was afraid of what events might unfold in Moscow in his absence. The 19 other members who did attend issued the clearest possible condemnation of Russia’s war, declaring that the group “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.”
To compensate for these clear losses, the Russian state, like ISIS or the IRA, seeks to inflict suffering on Ukrainian civilians. On Tuesday alone, the Russian military sent more than 90 missiles into Ukrainian territory in an attempt to destroy the country’s electrical grid and other infrastructure. Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are already victims of this air campaign, unprecedented in postwar European history. Now two Polish civilians are victims as well. [Continue reading…]