NATO and the United States say they are investigating “relevant” reports that Russian missiles are responsible for Deadly explosion in Poland near the border with Ukraine.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said Washington was seeking to “corroborate” reports in Polish media that a Russian missile landed in the eastern village of Przewodow. Lan, killing two people.
“I don’t want to speculate or make theories,” Ryder told reporters when asked about the US stance on backing a NATO ally in the event of an attack.
“When it comes to our security commitments and Article 5, we have made it clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory,” Ryder said, referring to the agreement. Collective Defense Treaty in NATOstipulates that an attack on any member of the alliance is an attack on all.
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg also said he spoke with Polish President Andrzej Duda and that the alliance was monitoring the situation and consulting with allies.
“It is important that all events are established,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.
Talk to President Duda @prezydentpl about the explosion in #Poland. I send my condolences for the loss of life. #NATO is monitoring the situation and the Allies are consulting closely. It is important that all events are set.
– Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) November 15, 2022
If confirmed, it would be the first time a Russian missile has landed in a country other than Ukraine since. Russia launched the invasion on February 24th.
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Kiev, said it was possible the missiles “missed their target, over-fired or were repelled by Ukrainian air defenses”.
“But I think we need to be very, very careful in speculating along those lines until the details of the attack become clearer,” Hull said.
The Russian Defense Ministry quickly dismissed the reports on Tuesday, calling them “a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation”.
“None of the attacks on targets near the Ukraine-Poland border were carried out by Russian destructive means,” the statement said.
For its part, Poland convened emergency meetings of the national security council and the cabinet shortly after the reports emerged.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller told reporters the council meeting was convened due to a “crisis situation”, adding that relevant information would be presented to the public later. He urged the media not to publish “unverified information” in the meantime.
Wave of interest
Condemnation and concern quickly spread from across Europe after the news broke, with many officials accusing Russia of being responsible for the incident.
Latvia’s Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks wrote on Twitter that Russia “fired missiles not only at Ukrainian civilians but also landed on NATO territory in Poland”.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a NATO summit that would include Ukraine’s “tough” collective response to Russia, and called on Kyiv’s allies to supply the country with weapons and advanced aircraft.
“Today, defending Ukraine’s skies means defending NATO,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, officials from Norway, Lithuania and Estonia – all NATO members – said they were trying to get more information.
“This is a very serious incident but there are still many things that are not clear,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said, according to Norway’s NTB news agency.
The tone in Washington, DC, was also cautious, with White House National Security spokeswoman Adrienne Watson tweeting that the Biden administration would “determine what happened and what the appropriate next steps would be.” .
US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel called the reports “extremely concerning” but added the question of whether the reported strikes were intentional or accidental “would be very important”.
The explosion reported on Tuesday occurred between Wave of Russian Attacks Across Ukraine which Kiev called the heaviest in nearly nine months of war.
Bombs were reported in Lviv, less than 80 kilometers from the border with Poland.
European Union chief Charles Michel said he was “shocked by the news that a missile or other ammunition has killed people on Polish territory”.
“We stand with Poland. I am in contact with the Polish authorities, members of the European Council and other allies,” he wrote, later adding that he would propose a meeting on Wednesday with EU leaders in G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
just talked to @MorawieckiM.
Assure him of the complete unity and solidarity of the EU in support of Poland.
– Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) November 15, 2022