NATO ‘investigating’ reports of Russian rockets hitting Polish territory

Reports say Russia’s war entered NATO territory after rockets hit Poland, raising fears of an escalation.

“My condolences to our Polish brothers in arms,” ​​Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks tweeted on Tuesday evening, November 15.

“The Russian criminal regime fired missiles that not only targeted Ukrainian civilians, but also landed on NATO territory in Poland. Latvia fully supports Polish friends and condemns this crime,” he said. .

An unnamed “senior US intelligence official” also told the Associated Press news agency that Russian rockets killed two Poles.

They spoke out after Polish broadcaster Radio Zet reported that Russian missiles had killed two people in Przewodów, a village in eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border.

Local firefighters confirmed that two people died in a mysterious explosion on the same day.

And photos of a crater and shrapnel fragments on social media have fueled speculation.

Neither the Polish government nor NATO immediately confirmed the information, but Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an “urgent” meeting of his National Security Council shortly before Pabriks’ message.

“We are still establishing facts,” said a Polish diplomat.

“We are reviewing these reports and coordinating closely with our ally Poland,” NATO also said in a statement.

If Przewodów’s strike is confirmed, it remains to be seen whether Russia’s actions were deliberate or accidental.

The news came the same day Russia rained rockets on Ukraine, including in the Polish border regions.

An accidental strike was “bound to happen sooner or later”, a former NATO official told EUobserver, speaking off the record.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin has a reputation for deliberately escalating tensions every time he loses in Ukraine. “That’s what I fear [is happening]“, also said a European diplomat.

A Russian strike in Poland could see NATO invoke Article 4 ‘consultations’ on the security emergency – as it last did when Russia invaded Ukraine in February, prompting shipments mass of Western weapons towards Kyiv.

It could also see the Western alliance invoke its Article 5 on mutual defense for the first time since the 9/11 attacks in the United States more than 20 years ago.

EUobserver recently asked two experts what would happen if single Russian rockets hit Polish territory, for example a military airfield in Rzeszów, southeastern Poland.

Luigi Binelli Mantelli, a retired navy admiral who served as Italy’s chief of defense staff from 2013 to 2015, said NATO could retaliate against Russia in a limited capacity.

“NATO will respond with will and determination to deter further adversary action, while avoiding damage that could lead to escalation. For example, avoiding collateral damage,” he said. .

“In other words, it is a mere prediction of losses to be inflicted possibly equal to those that occurred due to the [Russian] first shot,” he added.

Jamie Shea, who teaches war studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, said: “NATO should decide how to fight back, choosing from a suite of [conventional] options that NATO military commanders would propose”.


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