The confrontation last week between Russian aircraft and a US-Polish naval operation in the Baltic Sea, within shooting distance of Kaliningrad, was a long anticipated and professionally executed exercise by the military commanders of all three countries. “Unprofessional”, as Admiral Mark Ferguson commanding US Naval Forces in Europe called it, was the very least thing it was. But who provoked, who feinted, who attacked first, and who defended are questions the publicity that has followed is meant to obscure.
One outcome that was not anticipated by either the attackers or defenders has begun to materialize in Warsaw. There, the rhetoric of military buildup along Poland’s eastern frontier has run into the cold calculation that Poland’s survival chances aren’t likely to be much better than those of the USS Donald Cook, if there had been a real firefight, Turkish style.