An explosion on Tuesday night in the Polish village of Przewodów on the border with Ukraine killed two people and triggered the first escalation in a NATO state of the conflict in Ukraine. The Polish Foreign Minister declared that the explosion was caused by a Russian missile, but later on Polish President Andrzej Duda said the rocket explosion in a village near the border with Ukraine was an isolated incident and there was still no conclusive evidence on who launched it.
Andrzej Duda told the Security Council that the missile “was most probably an unfortunate incident” and that there are no reasons to think it that was a deliberate attack. “The Russian-made rocket is highly likely to have been used by the Ukrainian air defense”, he explained.
In this context, Poland will not invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, i.e. the one that covers the case where a member state feels threatened.
For his part, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the Alliance’s emergency meeting that an investigation is underway, but that there is no sign that it was a deliberate act. Stoltenberg emphasized that the incident is not Ukraine’s fault, but is a consequence of the war for which Putin is responsible.
The Polish president had however appealed for calm and fact-checking in his first statements after the incident on Tuesday night. Andrzej Duda, President of Poland: “We know that all day today (yesterday) Russia attacked Ukraine with missiles, but at this moment we do not have conclusive evidence as to who launched this missile. It was most likely a Russian-made missile, but everything is still under investigation at this point”.
“I want to assure everyone that we are working in a very calm, very careful way, we are not making hasty decisions and I ask everyone to stay calm. Polish soldiers are on the ground, we have the support of allies and all commitments to us are in place. Up to this point, we can say that what happened was an isolated incident. There is no indication that others will follow,” he added.
In his turn, US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the missile that hit Poland was unlikely to have been launched from Russia, saying Washington and its allies wanted to determine exactly what happened before deciding on a response.
“It is unlikely … that it was pulled from Russia,” Joe Biden told reporters after an emergency meeting with the other G7 leaders, organized on the sidelines of the G20 summit, which is taking place in Bali, Indonesia.
Asked whether the missile was fired from Russia, Biden replied: “There is preliminary information that contests that. I don’t want to say that until we completely investigate. But it is — I — it’s unlikely, in the minds of the trajectory, that it was fired from Russia. But we’ll see. We’ll see.”
Later on, Joe Biden has informed NATO allies and G7 leaders that the explosion in Poland was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile, a NATO source told Reuters.
Russia has turned the eastern part of Europe into an unpredictable battlefield, Mihailo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian president, reacted to Joe Biden’s statements. Podoliak accuses Russia of being to blame for any “missile incidents” after the invasion of Ukraine.
As for Moscow, it vehemently denies that it launched that projectile and claims that it was a provocation by Kyiv to draw NATO into the war. On the other hand, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the idea that his country launched the missile that fell in Poland is a conspiracy theory that is part of Russian propaganda.
NATO ambassadors meet urgently on Wednesday at the request of Poland
NATO ambassadors will meet on Wednesday, at the request of Poland, based on Article 4 of the Alliance, two European diplomats told Reuters. In accordance with Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, members may raise any issue of concern, particularly related to the security of a member country. Article 4 provides for consultations of NATO allies in the event of a threat to the security of a member state.
One of the diplomats said that the Alliance will act with caution and that it needs time to verify the exact way in which the incident occurred.
NATO is examining the information regarding the fall of Russian missiles in Poland, according to an Alliance official quoted by AFP. “We are currently examining this information and are in close coordination with Poland, our ally,” said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
?? Presumably – a video of the consequences of a landed missile in Poland.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) November 15, 2022
Not only NATO, but also the US announced that they are verifying the hypotheses related to the explosion that caused the death of two Polish citizens. An emergency meeting of the National Security Council is scheduled in Warsaw. And Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also summoned a meeting of the Security Council.
After speaking on the phone with Joe Biden, Polish President Andrzej Duda also spoke with Volodymyr Zelenski. Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller told a news conference that the government was raising the military’s alert level in response to the explosion near the border with Ukraine.
“Zelensky assured me that it was a missile launched from the territory of the Russian Federation,” Andrzej Duda said. Duda emphasized that we must act with caution in this “difficult situation”. “I want to assure everyone that we act calmly, with caution, no hasty decisions are made. Polish soldiers are here, our allies are with us. We are working, it will be a long night for us,” the president said. “Most likely it was a Russian-made missile. This is under investigation at NATO. I hope this matter will be clarified in detail. At this moment, we have no conclusive evidence as to who launched this missile,” the Polish president said.
Joe Biden said that the USA is with us. All NATO provisions and allied commitments are in force, Andrzej Duda added.