NATO Should Just Shoot Down Russia’s Missiles

Since 2008, Russia has occupied Georgia and poisoned Tbilisi’s politics, its hybrid warfare has threatened to erode European borders, and refugee crises have moved through Southeastern and Central Europe to the Nordics and Baltics.

The West’s response has been pusillanimous and ineffective. After the full-scale invasion of 2022, a US-led coalition’s vacillation has protected Russian territory from Ukrainian attack almost as much as it has protected Ukraine.

Moscow’s war machine is set to level Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, and push forward on several axes. In the midst of the never-ending European debate, Moscow has simply moved the borders, claiming vast tracts of land as its own.

It’s never a good idea to let an enemy have the initiative and to make that a central principle of your strategy. Only by wrongfooting the Kremlin by making it as unsure of the West’s next move can we restore some semblance of balance.

It’s time for European countries to fight back, using their capacity to escalate and consider their capacity to deny.

European air defenses should begin operations from NATO countries to shoot down Russian missiles and drones over Western Ukraine. Guarded by NATO’s borders, a new air defense network would not qualify as meaningful escalation — much like the Western decision to defend Israel from an Iranian attack in April — despite the inevitable Russian threats.

Russian missiles and drones aimed at Ukraine have repeatedly entered NATO airspace and, so far, the response has been tepid. These weapons have crossed NATO borders and have still been allowed to deliver death to Ukraine, much to Kyiv’s understandable frustration.

Such repeated violations are finally sparking anger in Warsaw and other capitals, and Poland is considering extending its air defenses over Western Ukraine.

This is an obvious and overdue response to Russia’s behavior, and it must be encouraged and expanded. The technical arguments are self-evident: the air defense systems of NATO members, such as Patriot batteries, have the range (about 100 miles) to protect a massive area of Ukrainian territory.

Read the rest at CEPA.

Michael DiCianna is a Fellow at Yorktown Institute.

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