NewsExpert warns of increased risk of Russian hybrid attacks on Poland

Expert warns of increased risk of Russian hybrid attacks on Poland

What is Putin planning?
What is Putin planning?
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4:33 AM EST, March 3, 2024

Marek Menkiszak, from the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW), shared insights with the Polish Press Agency on the potential for Russian military aggression against Western countries. He believes it's unlikely Russia will take such steps before the upcoming US presidential elections or before Donald Trump potentially takes office. Menkiszak highlighted that the Kremlin is closely watching the US elections.

In his recent national address, Putin highlighted the risk of a nuclear conflict if NATO troops were deployed in Ukraine. The leader reiterated claims that the West seeks to dismantle Russia from within and assured that Russia will counter any external interference in its affairs.

Could Russia ramp up its efforts?

Menkiszak pointed out that an escalation in Russian hybrid warfare is a real possibility. This means an increase in cyberattacks, strikes on critical infrastructure, political sabotage, and destabilization efforts in states, particularly those influential to the West's Russia policy, he explained.

He acknowledged that Poland is notably at risk. "In Putin's addresses, Poland is often portrayed as a threat and an adversary, receiving more attention than even the Baltic states," he commented.

Pondering the bleakest outcomes

Menkiszak did not rule out the darkest outcomes, where Russia engages in military conflict with NATO members. However, he noted that such scenarios are likely only if the Kremlin sees NATO and the US as incapable of a credible response.

The US presidential elections could be a turning point, Menkiszak suggested, emphasizing their importance, especially in terms of military aid to Ukraine. "Ukraine's continued resistance is heavily reliant on Western support, half of which comes from the US," he stated.

He highlighted the fact that US financial aid accounts for roughly 85% of the ammunition provided to Kyiv. Any shift in US leadership and policy could significantly impact the war's progression.

Menkiszak also mentioned that a key deterrent from Russia's perspective is the US's capacity for immediate military intervention with considerable force. "Should Russia perceive a change in US security policy following a Trump victory – which is plausible given Trump's statements – they might adopt increasingly aggressive tactics," he assessed.

"The US elections are of paramount importance to Russia, holding much anticipation," he added.

Post-Trump victory expectations

Reflecting on Trump's first term, Menkiszak observed it was a mixed bag for Russia. "Trump's unpredictability led to Kremlin's disappointment, as anticipated strategic deals failed to materialize. Now, believing in a shift in both Trump and the global political landscape, Russia hopes for a different approach," he noted.

Therefore, he believes it's improbable for Russia to take bold steps that could disadvantage Trump, thus giving leverage to his adversaries. "Should Trump win, it's expected that Russia will wait for his political direction to crystallize. They might probe with minor initiatives, but significant actions seem unlikely," he clarified, "except for the anticipated offensive in Ukraine this summer, just before the NATO summit in Washington."

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