The missile in Poland apparently wasn’t Russia’s fault. It was the result of a Ukrainian counterattack against Russia missile escalation. Ukraine is facing a cold winter and Russia Vietnam style draft dodging.
The war in Ukraine has become a true war of attrition. Neither Putin nor President Zelensky can afford to lose face. Neither wants to appear too unreasonable. But both have taken very clear positions, with justification. Irreconcilable narratives. Both have invested so much that they cannot afford to look weak. If Putin compromises too much he’d give the opposition hope of overthrowing him and tempt hawks to do the same.
Both states are led by de facto dictatorial regimes. One stable the other ad hoc. Poland is still part of the Western democratic bloc.
While the Polish government responded both calm and quickly, not jumping to conclusions but quickly putting military units on alert and organizing meetings with allies, I can imagine them having actually wished Russia had accidentally fired across their border.
Poland would have been an internationally popular victim. This narrative was immediately being sold. Many still try to keep it up to an extent. Putin is getting blamed for starting the war which led to these horrors.
But Poland could use even greater international opposition to Russia and stronger support from its nominal allies. It is clear at this point that Russia isn’t planning on launching nukes soon and that NATO and Western leaders fear war outside Ukraine. This incident shows the chances of WWIII are getting smaller by the day (in Ukraine anyways).
But Poland has suffered more from the crisis. The Polish government has received too little aid in helping Ukrainian refugees. It is still being blackmailed by the EU over its additional reforms. The EU is threatening Poland more and more with further financial sanctions over its judicial reforms. The opposition has been trying to take advantage of this even though opposition leader Tusk has had a history of being soft on Russia while Law and Justice was prophetic in its denunciation of the Russian threat.
The Polish government can only benefit from the current threat escalating. The rally to the flag effect is virtually guaranteed. It would further strengthen its hand against the EU.
Currently the war in Ukraine threatens to further erode the government’s popularity as the people feel annoying side effects from the war but aren’t filled with fear, desperate for protection and strong leadership.
Elections when the Russian threat isn’t a nuisance but a looming horror could only favor the government. Either it would win a majority of the seats or it could get more easily away with a bit of fraud to give them the extra 5+ % amidst all the chaos.
Poland being in a state of war or real threat of war could even allow the government to suspend elections and exercise emergency powers.
The Polish government is far more Machiavellian than most Western Right-wing movements. They have had no problem using the secret service against their opponents during the 2019 parliamentary elections and they need a victory in 2023 to consolidate their achievements. An October surprise involving Tusk (real or faked) wouldn’t surprise me. But considering polarization and lack of trust in the state media amongst those who don’t support the ruling government, they just might want a crisis or threat that will be broadly reported and favor them. A false flag wouldn’t hurt.
If the war is still going and or the threat of a new one still looms at the time of the next elections, those might give an opening. The government won’t want to have to face with difficult aftermath of a war (without having fought in it) just before the elections.
The government could use any kind of glory or heroic role honestly. The incident has warmed people up to this. It may have given the government idea. A false flag may have been what made Putin president more than 20 years ago. It is not unheard of in Eastern Europe.