Aleksey Zuravlyov, a Russian politician and Vladimir Putin’s ally who appeared on national television Friday warned that Poland had “probably begun to realize that they were next.”
What are you guys going to do? Zhuravlyov referred to Putin’s imperial aspirations. “They know very well that Ukraine has ended. What’s next? The Balkans are also getting ready. They have probably begun to realize they are the next. We have no illusions but we do understand that they are all preparing for the next phase of war.
Zhuravlyov’s statement could be interpreted as an alert to NATO countries that are closest to Russia, but also as an alarm to the Russian people urging them to prepare for more war. I assume that both were intended.
It’s not surprising that the Russian Army is unable to control anything west of Dnipro, in the eastern third of Ukraine. But they will be crossing the Vistula River (which bisects Poland roughly) soon. Article 5 of the Atlantic Charter protects Poland as a NATO member. It states, “An armed attack on one or more in Europe or North America will be considered an assault against all.”
It is a lofty goal to take on NATO with an army that has been worn out and demodernized after nearly two years of heavy combat.
At least Zhuravlyov has ambition
Zhuravlyov is not a joke.
Zhuravlyov, in addition to his seat in the Duma, is also the head of Rodina (“Motherland”), a nationalist political party founded by Putin’s allies in 2003 to “leach votes away from the Communist Party.” It is now part of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia coalition, but it is neither liberal nor Democrat. The ultra-nationalist LDPR is often used as a stooge for more radical ideas (“Hey! Let’s conquer Europe!”). The United Russia Party, Putin’s less radical (but still nationalist), cannot publicly endorse such views.
Zhuravlyov’s words are likely to be echoed by Putin. He said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest catastrophe geopolitical” of the 20th Century and it was the end of “historical Russia.” The Russians tend to think that “Russia” is a term that includes many places that are not Russia, and that would prefer not to be ruled from Moscow. Ukraine is a good example. Poland, for example.
The “stealth” mobilization has made Russia’s army a little bit bigger than before Putin’s “special military operations” to quickly conquer Ukraine in 2022. The Russian Army has lost its best leaders, is less trained, and is less armed. Even in its current state, and this is an important but, the Russian Army can still generate enough combat force to hold onto its limited gains east from the Dnipro.
But Poland? Fuggidaboudit.
NATO countries have more F-35 stealth aircraft than the Russian Air Force’s entire inventory of fourth-generation fighters. Poland, on the other hand, is on track to train and equip the largest land force (aside, of course, from Russia).
Poland will soon be home to Europe’s biggest tank force, (again excepting Russia). This includes 1,000 South Korean K2 Black Panthers as well as 250 American M1 Abrams that have been upgraded. The K2 is, by the way, the most expensive main battle tank in the world. It’s also the toughest.
Poland takes people like Zhuravlyov very seriously. If Russia is looking for a fight, Poland can make Ukraine look easy.