LAccording to several media reports, two people were killed on Tuesday when two rockets hit a village in Poland near the border with Ukraine. The Polish government did not initially confirm the information. However, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called a meeting of the security cabinet in the early evening. A meeting of the entire cabinet was announced for 9 p.m., but according to Polish media reports, the security cabinet was still in session. Government spokesman Piotr Müller called on the media not to spread unconfirmed reports.
In the early evening, the Polish broadcaster Radio Zet, citing informal sources, reported that two stray Russian rockets had landed in the village of Przewodów in the Lublin Voivodeship, about five kilometers from the border with Ukraine. This happened at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Two men were killed in a plant for drying grain. The Polish broadcaster TVN24 published videos intended to show the location of the events. A crater can be seen on it.
The Radio Zet journalist who first reported on the event wrote on Twitter that his military sources said there were many indications of debris from a missile launched by Ukrainian air defenses. The AP news agency, on the other hand, reported, citing a high-ranking source in American intelligence circles, that Russian missiles had hit the village. The US Department of Defense and the White House have officially announced that they do not yet have sufficient information and are examining the case.
Zelenskyj: Terror beyond our borders
In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of Russian missiles that had hit Polish territory: “Today happened what we have been warning about for a long time. Terror is not confined to the borders of our state.”
According to the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti, the Russian Ministry of Defense described the reports from Poland as “a provocation aimed at further escalating the situation”. Russian forces did not strike near the Polish-Ukrainian border. However, according to Polish media reports, the incident happened in the afternoon, at the same time as the massive Russian rocket attacks on Ukraine began.
NATO initially expressed reservations. “We are looking at these reports and are coordinating closely with our ally Poland,” said a representative of the alliance on Tuesday evening. Internally, it was said that the meeting of the Polish Security Council and further information on the incident were awaited. Poland could then convene a special session of the NATO Council under Article 4 of the NATO treaty to brief allies and discuss consequences.
Article 4 and Article 5 of NATO
This is possible when, from the point of view of a member state, the “territorial integrity, political independence or security of one of the parties is threatened”. Article 4 has been activated six times since the Alliance was formed, mostly by Turkey. Most recently, Ankara convened a special session in February 2020 after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by the Assad regime on Idlib in Syria.
Allianz’s duty of assistance is regulated in Article 5. Accordingly, the members agree “that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against them all”. The type of assistance can be varied, it can, but does not have to be military. There is no automatism; It is mandatory that the UN Security Council is informed before any countermeasures are taken.
So far, the Alliance has triggered Article 5 once, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At the time, the primary concern was to express solidarity with the America under attack; it was only much later that a joint NATO mission was launched to stabilize Afghanistan. The military intervention in the Hindu Kush country was carried out by an alliance of the willing.
The local authorities initially only confirmed to the Polish media that two men died in an explosion in the village. The cause is still being investigated. However, Polish media quoted eyewitnesses as saying it was “something that fell out of the sky”. Not only the fire brigade and rescue workers came to the site, but also units of the Polish army.