Polish Foreign Ministry speaks of Russian missile strike – NATO wants to meet on Wednesday for an emergency meeting

Warsaw After the alleged rocket impact on Polish territory with two dead, there are increasing indications of the origin of the projectile. On Wednesday night there were official statements that it was a Russian-made missile, but that it was not necessarily fired by Russia.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said: “We don’t have any conclusive evidence at the moment as to who fired this missile. (…) It was most likely a Russian-made rocket, but all of that is still being investigated at the moment.” The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs also spoke of a Russian rocket.

US President Joe Biden said early Wednesday morning on the sidelines of the G20 summit that it was “unlikely” that the missile was launched from Russian territory. According to information from the dpa and AP news agencies, Biden said in conversation with other heads of state and government that it was an anti-aircraft missile from Ukraine. The US President spoke of a projectile from the S-300 system, which was made in Russia and used by Ukraine.

“We will find out exactly what happened,” Biden had previously officially declared, promising that the United States would stand closely by Poland’s side. Biden accused Russia of escalating the war with Ukraine while the international community explored ways to peace at the G20 summit.

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The US President had previously met with leaders from France, Germany, Spain, Canada, the UK, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and the EU. The emergency meeting was scheduled at short notice in the early morning in Bali.

Further research and consultation required

On Tuesday, the Polish radio station ZET reported two stray rockets in Przewodow near the Ukrainian border. US media reported, citing US intelligence circles, that two people had been killed in the impact of Russian missiles. The fact that the background is now becoming clearer should also affect the NATO consultations announced for Wednesday.

>> Read also: The war is about to reach a dangerous level of escalation – but it is too early for the NATO alliance

Poland is a member of the EU and the Western Defense Alliance. A spokesman for the Polish government said on Tuesday evening 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 Andrzej Duda on Tuesday evening. “I have expressed my condolences for the loss of life,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter. “NATO is monitoring the situation and the 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.

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.

Mateusz Morawiecki

Poland’s Prime Minister convened the National Security Council.

(Photo: dpa)

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:

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow described 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.

Western military experts had already stated before the new findings that Russia had not 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 the event of a deliberate attack, Russia would test NATO’s red lines.

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.

Baltic states are concerned

With an attack on a target near the border with Poland, Russia is still taking a high risk. Hans-Lothar Domröse, General a. D. and former commander of a NATO command, also assumed a misguided offensive missile on Wednesday night: “However, Moscow accepts that the conflict could escalate.” Firing rockets at a target not far from Polish territory, carry 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.”

With agency material

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