The Ukrainian refugee flow is already threatening to overwhelm Ukraine’s neighbors. From Scott Ritter at consortiumnews.com:
Scott Ritter says the ongoing flow of refugees out of Ukraine into neighboring territories poses the greatest potential for a NATO-Russia clash.
The ongoing Russian invasion has torn asunder whatever passed for geopolitical stability in Eastern Europe in the years since NATO expansion brought Poland and the three former Soviet Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into its membership.
While peeved, Russia had accepted the resulting equilibrium with stoic grace, bristling at every NATO effort at muscle flexing, but not overreacting. Even in the face of NATO and EU intervention in the affairs of Russia’s neighbor and ostensible ally, Belarus, in the aftermath of a contested August 2020 presidential election and sustained border crisis over immigration policy, Russia kept its cool, reining in Viktor Lukashenko, the impetuous Belarussian president, while trying to calm the situation with the four NATO members in question.
The Russo-Ukrainian War has changed this equation, with Poland and the three Baltic States using the conflict as an excuse to trigger Article IV of the NATO Charter to call for consultations among the NATO membership regarding a situation the four Eastern European nations view as a pressing national security matter.
The article states simply:
The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.”