At least two are dead after a Russian missile hit a village in Poland near the Ukrainian border on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reports that it is not yet known if the missile originated from Russia, but Moscow is engaged again today in missile terror attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid. Another source (I’ll get to that in a moment) positively ID’s the missiles as coming from Russia.
Errant missile strikes are hardly unknown, particularly when Russian gear is involved.
According to CNN, Polish national security officials are holding an emergency meeting to discuss the deadly matter.
As a NATO member, Poland is covered under the alliance’s Article 5, which states that an attack on any member in Europe or North America is considered an attack upon them all. The only time Article 5 has ever been invoked by the North Atlantic Council was following the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Russia’s defense ministry called the report “a deliberate provocation in order to escalate the situation.”
Perhaps… but by which side?
Ukraine has enjoyed two solid months of battlefield victories, most recently forcing Russia to abandon every square mile of occupied territory on the right bank of the Dnipro River.
Russia, on the other hand, might benefit from an “escalate to deescalate” incident. No serious person wants to see a wider war in Europe, and an “accidental” attack on a NATO member might possibly force alliance leaders to rethink their military and financial aid to Kyiv.
Or it could have just been an accident. Again, Russian targeting and gear aren’t exactly world-class.
A report from NATO member Latvia (courtesy of Google Translate) claims that “Article 5 will most likely not be triggered” by the strike. Latvia’s Diena news site — presumably with more up-to-date information — also says it’s now confirmed that the missiles were Russian and that two of them struck the town of Przewodow.
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks told the news site, “What happened cannot go unnoticed. One of the possibilities would be for NATO members and Poland to agree on providing additional anti-aircraft protection, including in part of the territory of Ukraine.”
If Moscow was actually hoping to reduce Western aid to Ukraine, statements like Pabrik’s make that seem unlikely.
Article 4, however, likely will be pressed. It says that “The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.”
In other words: Meetings will be held.
UPDATE: There’s a third possibility. It could have been an errant Ukrainian air-to-air missile, presumably fired at incoming Russian cruise missiles, according to Ukraine Weapons Tracker.
Mystery (likely) solved. No Article 5, No WW3. Everyone can be calm. https://t.co/9llN2jSVa2
— Kyle Glen (@KyleJGlen) November 15, 2022
Looking for another source to back this up. Hasn’t happened yet.
Tragic, no matter what — and either way, nothing to invoke Article 5 over and start WWIII.