If Russian missiles hit NATO member Poland, Putin’s invasion may escalate

In 1991, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved and Polish President Lech Walesa visited the headquarters of NATO, putting his newly democratic nation on the road to becoming a member of NATO, which happened on March 12, 1999.

The United States and Western allies are investigating but could not confirm a report on Tuesday that a blast in NATO member Poland resulted from stray Russian missiles, while Russia’s defense ministry denied such reports after two explosions rocked Przewodow, a village near the Ukraine border, on November 15, 2022. 

NATO’s Article 5 states that “an armed attack against one or more of [the members] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,” and that force can be used in response.

Sources say Russian missiles crossed into Poland and struck a grain facility near the border of Ukraine, killing two people.

The Polish foreign ministry said that a Russian-made rocket fell on the village of Przewodow, near the Ukrainian border, at 3:40 pm local time, and it had summoned the Russian ambassador over the incident.

It was not immediately clear whether the missiles strayed into Poland accidentally or whether the NATO member was deliberated targeted.

Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy facilities with its biggest barrage of missiles yet, striking targets across the country and causing widespread blackouts, in an apparent retaliation for defenders turning invading force into retreat in recent weeks.

Ukraine’s rapid advance in the east of the country did not just take Russian forces by surprise – jubilant Ukrainian soldiers are also amazed by the speed of their counter-attack.

Russian strikes hit key cities across Ukraine this Tuesday, including the capital Kyiv – where two residential buildings are reported have been hit by missiles.

The mayors of Lviv (in the west) and Kharkiv (in the north east) also say their cities have been struck. Power cuts are being reported as it appears energy facilities have been hit as well.

The White House said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation and that he spoke by phone with Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Biden reportedly expressed his condolences, offered assistance with Poland’s investigation and reaffirmed the U.S.’s “ironclad commitment” to NATO, according to the White House.

Biden also spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Jacek Siewiera, chief of Poland’s National Security Bureau.

Biden and other world leaders convened an emergency meeting in Indonesia to discuss the explosion in Poland, which rattled some of the discussions as leaders awoke to learn of the attack.

Biden this morning had been expected to join other leaders in planting a mangrove tree and participating in a ceremonial photo, but those events were delayed as he and other allies convened at the hotel where he has been staying.

In a conference room, Biden and other leaders sat around an oval table with placards displaying attending countries. Leaders of several NATO nations – France, Germany, Spain, Canada, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands – joined leaders of Japan, the European Union and the European Commission.

Group of Seven leaders are arranging an emergency summit meeting on Wednesday in response to a missile strike in Poland, according to a Japanese government source. Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, has called an emergency meeting of EU leaders at the G20 summit in Bali.

Poland has increased surveillance of its airspace, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who confirmed that Poland is studying the possibility of requesting consultations under Article 4 of the NATO military alliance treaty.

Article 4 calls for all 30 NATO member states to consult together if a member nation feels threatened by another country or a terrorist organization.

Article 4 does not, however, mean that there will be direct pressure on the alliance to act.

This consultation mechanism has been triggered several times in NATO’s history.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his country was urgently looking into reports about the missile strike in Poland and coordinating with international partners, including NATO.

As Ukrainian troops restore abandoned enemy vehicles for their own future use, one soldier could not contain his incredulity about how quickly they retook territory: “We went on the attack and took one of their positions. We occupied it, fortified it,” he recounted. “Three days later the front moved on and they all started to scram. We were ready to fight but for them to just abandon the whole frontline, we really weren’t expecting that.”

Ukraine’s spectacular success is in large part down to a strong disinformation campaign, said special forces commander Andriy Malakhov, who is recovering from gunshot wounds sustained in the fight against the Russians.

“I led the assault: my main maneuver was a decoy attack south of Balakliya,” Malakhov said. “The main thrust actually came from the West.”

Warning that the world is in “great peril,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said world leaders meeting in person for the first time in three years must tackle conflicts and climate catastrophes, increasing poverty and inequality — and address divisions among major powers that have gotten worse since Russia invaded Ukraine.

In his “state of the world” speech at Tuesday’s opening of the annual high-level global gathering Guterres said geopolitical divides are putting all of us at risk.

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