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Poland says Russian-made missile hit its territory as NATO weighs response

Poland says Russian-made missile hit its territory as NATO weighs response

A view shows damages after an explosion in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, on Nov 15, 2022. (Photo: Obtained from social media by Reuters)

WARSAW: NATO member Poland said on Wednesday (Nov 16) that a Russian-made rocket killed two people in eastern Poland near Ukraine, and it summoned Russia's ambassador to Warsaw for an explanation after Moscow denied it was responsible.

The Polish foreign ministry said the rocket fell on Tuesday afternoon on Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland about 6km from the border with Ukraine, killing two. Media reports said the strike hit a grain-drying facility.

Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are committed to collective defence, so a Russian strike on NATO member Poland could risk widening the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which began with Moscow's invasion in February.

A NATO official said the alliance was closely coordinating with Poland.

US President Joe Biden told Polish President Andrzej Duda in a call that Washington has an "ironclad commitment to NATO" and will support Poland's investigation, the White House said.

Polish President Duda said: "We do not have any conclusive evidence at the moment as to who launched this missile ... it was most likely a Russian-made missile, but this is all still under investigation at the moment".

He also said the incident that happened was "a one off incident" and that there are "no indications that there will be a repeat of today's incident".

Duda added that it was very likely that Poland would request consultations under Article 4 of the NATO military alliance following the blast.

"Our ambassador will be attending the meeting of the North Atlantic Council tomorrow at 10am at NATO headquarters ... it is highly likely that the ambassador will request the activation of Article 4, or allied consultations," he said.

NATO ambassadors were due to hold a regular weekly meeting on Wednesday.

Fabrice Pothier, former head of policy planning in the NATO secretary-general's office, told Sky TV that the events were enough to trigger NATO's Article 4. That would entail Poland calling a NATO meeting "to consult each other, to assess the threat and to take concrete action," Pothier said.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urged Poles to remain calm.

"I am calling on all Poles to remain calm in the face of this tragedy ... We must exercise restraint and caution," Morawiecki said after emergency government meetings in Warsaw.

Morawiecki also said, Poland has decided to increase surveillance of its airspace.

The Associated Press earlier cited a senior US intelligence official as saying the blast was due to Russian missiles having crossed into Poland.

But in Washington, the Pentagon, White House and US State Department said they could not corroborate the report and were working with the Polish government to gather more information. The State Department said the report was "incredibly concerning".

Germany and Canada said they were monitoring the situation, and the European Union, the Netherlands and Norway said they were seeking more details. French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a verification effort, while Britain was "urgently" looking into the report.


Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian missiles hit Poland in a "significant escalation" of the conflict. He did not provide evidence.

Russia's defence ministry denied that Russian missiles hit Polish territory, describing reports as "a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation".

It added in a statement: "No strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border were made by Russian means of destruction."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information on an explosion in Poland.

Russia was pounding cities across Ukraine with missiles on Tuesday, in attacks that Kyiv said were the heaviest wave of missile strikes in nearly nine months of war. Some hit Lviv, which is less than 80km from the border with Poland.

Latvian Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks said the situation was "unacceptable" and it could lead to NATO providing more anti-aircraft defences to Poland and Ukraine, a view Pothier endorsed.

"Every inch of #NATO territory must be defended!," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Twitter.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said, according to BNS newswire: "We are discussing with our allies how to respond to what happened jointly and decisively." 

Source: Reuters/ec/fh/rj


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