Дата публикации

Elections in Poland – a play on voters' fears and a provocative policy towards neighbors

Another double violation of Belarusian airspace by a Polish military helicopter on September 28 raises the question of the true goals of the incident. Although the balanced and cold-blooded response of the Belarusian leadership has nullified the escalation potential, there is a clear calculation behind the actions of the Polish side, the pilot error theory seems unlikely. A number of concomitant circumstances indicate the intentional nature of this incident.

First, the parliament campaign in Poland has entered its final stage. The confrontation between the two leading political forces is escalating, the polarization of society is increasing. Poles themselves admit that there has not been such an acute campaign where an opponent is called an "enemy of the people" since the 1990s. The ruling Law and Justice Party is not confident in its unconditional victory. Due to the use of manipulative electoral strategies – playing on the voters' fears, promises to ensure security – the party leadership is obviously not interested in de-escalation on the Belarusian-Polish border. Despite the readiness to restore good-neighborly relations demonstrated by Minsk, the Polish side, by double violation, actually declares its intention not only to maintain the degree of tension that has formed, but also to increase it. Second, according to Polish experts, Minsk and Moscow "through coordinated messages are trying to increase the credibility of the scenario according to which the incident on the border could escalate the conflict," thereby putting pressure on the Western bloc and forcing it to restrain full-scale support for Ukraine. The Polish provocations that took place in September and October have two layers. On the one hand, they are aimed at convincing allies who take a cautious position that Belarus and Russia themselves are not ready to escalate. On the other hand, it is a signal to Moscow that NATO is not afraid of escalation on the border and is ready for it.

Another factor is pressure on Belarus, which pursues a responsible neighborly foreign policy and seeks to prevent escalation. A tough response would be the cause for new destructive steps by the West against Minsk, which, in principle, is what Warsaw wants. For this reason, the Polish military leadership probably assessed the risk of destroying the intruder helicopter as minimal.

Fourth, traditionally such incidents are used for intelligence purposes – to identify the state of the air defense systems, their areas of deployment, the readiness degree, algorithms of response, etc. Fifth, it is a defocusing of Russia's attention, which will be forced to respond to threats to its ally.

Therefore, the air incident on the Belarusian-Polish border solves many tasks important for the Polish leadership, in the light of which the version of a deliberate provocation looks quite reasonable.