Vitalii Portnikov

De-escalation and Impunity

President Joseph Biden of the United States and other Western leaders are urging Israel not to retaliate against Iran. They deem it a victory simply that Israel and its allies successfully repelled the attack. However, Israel’s response could trigger another strike by Iran, leading to further escalation and dragging the world into a larger conflict. Of course, no one in the West desires such a conflict.

A similar approach has been applied to war from the very beginning months after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Ukraine, undoubtedly, must emerge victorious, but only within its internationally recognized territory. Western allies oppose the use of their manufactured weapons for strikes on Russian territory. Even when Ukraine employs domestically produced drones to target Russian oil refineries, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemns these actions, claiming they target civilian infrastructure and thus cannot be justified. The fact that Russia has long been successfully destroying critical Ukrainian infrastructure is conveniently overlooked. The priority is to prevent the situation from escalating significantly.

However, such de-escalation has a twin sister—impunity. Totalitarian regimes are convinced that they are feared and that conflicts are unwanted with them. Russia knows that the West not only shuns direct involvement in the war but also avoids strikes on Russian territory. This means Vladimir Putin can “experiment” with the war in Ukraine for as long as he pleases.

Now, Iran may also learn that while the West is willing to intercept missiles and drones approaching Israel, it staunchly opposes strikes on Iran. This means Ayatollah Khamenei may order preparations for a new strike.

About the Author
Vitalii Portnikov is a Ukrainian publicist, writer, TV presenter and member of the Ukrainian PEN. He is also an author and renowned journalist working in democratic media in Central and Eastern Europe for more than three decades. He is the author of hundreds of analytical articles in Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Russian, Israeli, Baltic media. He hosts television programs and his own analytical channels on YouTube. He is currently broadcasting at the office of the Espreso TV channel and continues to cooperate with the Ukrainian and Russian services of Radio Liberty.