Handlers around Ukrainian President Zelensky need to step up their game and keep him from mistakes that might have significant consequences for his people.
A Russian-made missile recently stuck a building in Poland on Tuesday and it killed two Polish civilians. This led to a massive response from media around the world. Some were ready to get NATO involved and invoke Article Four or Article Five which would set the table for a united conflict with Putin’s forces in Russia.
But here’s the major problem, the missile was Ukrainian. That is the conclusion the United States and other allies have decided on. It seems clear that this was right because Poland canceled the emergency meeting of NATO that was called.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is not going with the collective program; he is only accepting one explanation even if it is being proven wrong. Zelensky wrote on social media in the aftermath of the explosion and blamed Russia calling it a terrorist attack and he demanded that NATO act immediately.
“Terror is not limited to our national borders. Russian missiles hit Poland … NATO territory. This is a Russian missile attack on collective security — a very significant escalation. We must act,” Zelensky wrote.
It is just out of bounds for Zelensky to move so quickly on the internet and make such demands on NATO to attack Russia based on assumptions. No one will benefit from an all-out war between NATO and Russia, and you certainly don’t get it started with a Twitter post without a detailed investigation.
It just seems like maybe Zelensky did have all the facts, knew it was Ukrainian, and tried to set off a major worldwide conflict by putting NATO into a corner so they would have to get into the war against Russia.
Even if he had limited information, it is hard to imagine rushing to a conclusion when the stakes are so high and it is even harder to understand why he came back the next day and doubled down on his determination that it was not a Ukrainian missile that landed in Poland. He said on TV, “I have not doubt… it was not our missile.”
But Polish President Andrzej Duda said it was “highly probable” that the missile was launched by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense.
“From the information that we and our allies have, it was an S-300 rocket made in the Soviet Union, an old rocket and there is no evidence that it was launched by the Russian side,” he said.
There is no doubt that Zelensky feels immense pressure while defending his country, and there is no excuse for the brutality Russia is inflicting on the Ukrainian people. But if someone doesn’t get more control over Zelensky’s actions, he could do something even worse than he’s done.
This war needs to end and Russia needs to completely withdraw from Ukraine. And countries like the United States need to support the effort to get this done.
But now we have to also question how the money is being used before we send close to 40 million to Zelensky. With human beings being who they are, we might even need to question whether Zelensky is OK with continued escalation as long as billions keep coming his country’s way.
Speaking to attendees of the G20 summit in Bali earlier this week, President Zelensky laid out a 10-point peace plan that includes nuclear safety guarantees, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine’s territory, and reparations and justice for “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
Let’s hope Zelensky can keep it together and stick to this plan.