Warsaw The Polish government confirmed the impact of a Russian missile on Polish territory late Tuesday evening. According to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Russian rocket fell at 3:40 p.m. (local time) in the village of Przewodow. The Russian ambassador had been summoned.
Two people are believed to have died in the explosion. A representative of the Polish fire brigade confirmed this. “It is unclear what happened,” the officer on duty said on Tuesday.
The Polish radio station ZET reported that two stray rockets fell in Przewodow near the border with Ukraine. US media reported, citing US intelligence circles, that two people had been killed in the impact of Russian missiles.
It would be the first such incident in Russia’s nearly nine-month war of aggression against Ukraine. Poland is a member of the EU and the western defense alliance NATO.
The panel wants to meet on Wednesday morning for a crisis meeting. In the evening, a spokesman for the Polish government said that Poland was examining whether the country should apply for consultations under Article 4 of the NATO treaty. The article states that the parties will consult each other “if, in the opinion of either party, there is a threat to the integrity of the territory, to political independence or to the security of either party”.
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of Allianz, spoke to Polish President Andrzej Duda in the evening. “I have expressed my condolences for the loss of life,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter. “NATO is monitoring the situation and allies are consulting closely. It is important that all facts are collected.” US President Biden also spoke to Stoltenberg on the phone in the evening.
The US Department of Defense initially said the reports could not be confirmed at this time. The British government announced that the incident was being investigated and that it was “in close contact with allies”.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called a meeting of the National Security Council, his spokesman said on Twitter. However, government spokesman Piotr Müller warned against spreading untested information. All information from the Polish government’s Committee on Security and Defense should later be made available to the public, he announced.
According to Polish media reports, the explosion occurred in the Hrubieszowski district in the far east of the country at 3:38 p.m. The nearest Polish city of Lublin is about 120 kilometers away. The reasons are unknown, the press officer of the local district fire brigade told the online portal onet.pl.
Russia denies allegations
A video circulated on Twitter is said to show the location of the explosion:
According to the website of the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita, several possible reasons are currently being investigated. Accordingly, it would also be investigated whether a military cruise missile triggered the explosion. For this purpose, currently recorded radar data is evaluated, the newspaper writes with reference to Polish government circles. According to the Internet portal Onet.pl, government circles say that Russian missiles are responsible for the explosion.
The Ministry of Defense in Moscow describes the information about a Russian missile impact on Polish territory as a deliberate provocation. The Interfax news agency quoted the ministry as saying that these had the aim of escalating the situation. There were no attacks with Russian weapons on targets near the Polish-Ukrainian border.
Military experts doubt intentional shelling
Russia launched rocket attacks on dozens of targets in Ukraine on Tuesday. The Ukrainian Air Force reported 100 shells. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a commitment: it was Russian missiles that hit Poland, he explains. The Russian attack on NATO territory means a serious escalation of the situation. There has to be a reaction to that.
From the point of view of Western military experts, Russia may not have deliberately fired rockets at Poland. It’s possible the missiles were misguided or simply poorly designed, said a former general familiar with Russian weapons technology. In a deliberate attack, Russia would test the NATO red lines. An attack on NATO member Poland would therefore be interpreted as an attack on all countries of the defense pact.
In the event of an unintentional shelling, however, NATO would hardly trigger such an alliance. An escalation is unlikely to be in the interest of either Russia or the West. So far, both sides have tried to avoid a direct confrontation. For example, the NATO countries are not supplying battle tanks to Ukraine, and the Russians have so far avoided directly attacking Western arms supplies to Ukraine.
A possible target of the Russians could have been the Dobrotvirska TPP coal-fired power plant, which is located not far from the border on Ukrainian territory. According to the Association of European Transmission System Operators, a power line to Poland is connected to the power plant. In total, only two of these lines exist between the two countries. This could be an explanation, especially against the background of the massive attacks on the Ukrainian infrastructure.
With the attack on a target near the border with Poland, Russia is taking a high risk. The rockets were probably misguided, said Hans-Lothar Domröse, General a. D. and former commander of a NATO command. “However, Moscow accepts that the conflict could escalate.” Firing missiles at a target not far from Polish territory carries the risk of misses. Today Domröse works for the consulting firm Agora Strategy.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts are with Poland, our close ally and neighbor.” The situation is being closely monitored and we are “in contact with our Polish friends and NATO allies.”
Politicians from the nearby Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also showed solidarity with Poland on Twitter. Estonia’s Foreign Ministry called the news from Poland “highly worrying”. “We are consulting closely with Poland and other allies. Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory. We are in full solidarity with our close ally Poland.”
Latvia’s Defense Minister Artis Pabriks wrote: “My condolences to our Polish brothers-in-arms.” In his tweet, Pabriks blames Russia for the explosion. Latvia is “fully behind the Polish friends” and “condemns this crime,” said Pabriks.
Later that evening, Pabriks told CNN that none of this would need to be dealt with “if it weren’t for this criminal war against Ukraine.” According to Pabriks, the war is “too close to our borders”.
Gitanas Nauseda, the President of Lithuania, called the news “troubling”. Close contact is maintained “with our Polish friends,” Nauseda also emphasized that every centimeter of NATO territory must be defended.
With agency material
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