Speaking to the Associated Press, one U.S. intelligence official claimed that two people were killed after a Russian missile landed in a Polish village on Tuesday. The incident technically means that Russia just committed an act of aggression on NATO territory, though whether or not the strike was intentional remains to be seen.
The missile landed in Przewodów, an eastern Polish village close to the Ukrainian border, suggesting that the strike was not intentional.
Poland Missile Incident: Was It A Missile Strike?
There remains some confusion about whether or not the incident was a missile strike, with some reports on social media suggesting that what hit the town was the remains of a rocket that was shot down by Ukrainian forces. Of course, we cannot confirm such analysis and reports are still breaking on this topic.
Ukrainian reporter Mariusz Gierszweski wrote on Twitter that sources in the intelligence community indicated that it may not have been a missile strike at all.
“My sources in the services say that what hit Przewowo is most likely the remains of a rocket shot down by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Gierszewski said.
19FortyFive cannot confirm such information at the moment.
NATO and Russia: What Happens Now?
The strike – should it turn out to be a missile strike – could have potentially very serious consequences given that Poland is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
A strike on NATO territory is considered an attack against all members of the alliance under Article 5 of the treaty.
Article 5 is a cornerstone of the alliance between NATO’s 30 member states. The article states that if any NATO Ally is targeted by an outside nation, all other members of the alliance consider it an act of violence against themselves and will take all necessary action to assist the Ally that was attacked.
Article 5 states that in the event of such an attack, the Allies will “assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”
It means that, technically, other nations may take action against Russia following the strike in Poland. It also means that Poland is likely talking to Allied nations about the incident and formulating a collective plan. Poland and NATO Allies may also decide not to take any action, deeming the attack an accident and considering the possibility that some sort of military action against Russia could prove more destructive than accepting the strike was not intentional and allowing Moscow to take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
That being said, NATO countries have repeatedly threatened severe consequences for any Russian attack on NATO territory. NATO officials are often quoted as saying they would defend “every inch” of NATO territory from Russia.
Urgent National Security Committee Meeting Takes Place
In response to the strike, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an urgent meeting of the national security and defense affairs committee. The decision was announced by cabinet spokesman Piotr Muller on Twitter.
The meeting will see the leaders of the ministries of foreign affairs, justice, interior, and defense come together to discuss the appropriate response. The government’s response will also be decided with the support and advice of the nation’s security and intelligence officials.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.