Posted on: November 16, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Anadolu Agency

By Lily Ligeska, Features Editor

Early Tuesday afternoon, a missile struck Przewodow, Poland, killing two civilians. NATO member Poland was hesitant to react on any claims regarding who the missile came from, leaving the world in a state of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, as the war in Ukraine trudges onward and Russia plows through Ukraine’s capital, this incident could lead to accidental escalation of tensions. On Nov. 14, Ukraine was under fire from a missile attack from Russia, which led to speculation that Russia hit Poland.

Moraine Valley professors say this incident was likely unintentional, pointing out it would not be in Russia’s best interest to have launched such an attack. However, they also say the likelihood of nuclear war, though still small, has increased recently.  

“Not much is going to happen if the missile is determined accidental,” said MV history professor Jim McIntyre. “A lot of things that are still used aren’t perfect. If an odd round came up out of a war zone, it’s possible. If something happens once, it’s forgivable. If there’s a repetition or a pattern, then that can be taken as proof of intent.”  

Source: ABC News
A map outlines places where missiles from a Russian barrage may have struck.

NATO was an alliance formed in 1949, after World War II, as a counter to Soviet forces. It consists of 30 member nations, mostly in Europe. The purpose of NATO is to ensure freedom and security of its members through political and military means–meaning this is an alliance where, if you attack one member, you’re at war with all members.  

After the missile incident, the board of trustees in each nation representing NATO had an emergency meeting in Bali, Indonesia, to gather the facts and proceed with caution. Their official stance was that the missile hitting Przewodow had been an accidental fire from Ukraine’s defensive line. If the story had been that Russia had fired, war would have been imminent.

Ukraine is shifting the blame from themselves. President Volodymyr Zelensky recently said that Ukraine has “no doubts” that they are not responsible for the missile strike.

War accidents do happen, not necessarily constituting an attack. While unfortunate that the missile killed two civilians, if it was accidental, the thinking is it’s not worth invoking Article 5 of NATO.

“Russia would have nothing to gain from NATO joining the war against it,” said professor Jason King, who teaches geography and developmental math. “Right now, it has its hands completely full.

“Not only is it fighting in Ukraine, but it is also attempting to juggle several conflicts in Central Asia and the Caucasus and is doing all of them poorly. Russian influence in CSTO (Russia’s equivalent of NATO) is weakening.” 

Russia would have nothing to gain from NATO joining the war against it – right now it has its hands completely full.”

MV professor Jason King

Nuclear weapons held by Russia and the United States have created fear in the past, like during the Cold War. But even if the U.S. were dragged into the conflict, a nuclear threat in current times is unlikely, although the likelihood is five times greater than it has been.

“In any given year, predictive markets suggest there exists about a 1 percent chance of a nuclear weapon being used somewhere on Earth,” King said. “Right now, predictive markets suggest there exists about a 5 percent chance – still small, but nightmarishly high.”

Russian morale is low, so nuclear war isn’t completely out of the picture. More Russians are getting drafted, disrupting the lives of civilians who aren’t interested in war.

McIntyre reminds his students that Russia is calling up people their age: “One day you’re sitting on campus, the next day you’re marching off into a war that really doesn’t interest you. So motivation and morale will suffer as a result.” 

With the war dragging out longer than experts could predict, it leaves the question: What will happen next? 

“People who are much smarter than me predicted that this would last at most two weeks, back in February,” McIntyre said. “Here we are nearly nine months later and it’s still going. The prediction that Russia would prevail is far gone by the wayside, so you never know what could happen.”