Two men were killed in a Polish town near the Ukrainian border on Tuesday, November 15, after a missile crashed into a grain silo. The attack, which hit the village of Przewodów, is the first incident on NATO soil since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began. How the alliance should respond has divided the opinions of Express.co.uk readers in a new poll.
The incident occurred amid Russia firing dozens of missiles across Ukraine as Ukrainian forces tried to shoot them down in defence.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO but since Poland is part of the military alliance, the nation is protected under the principle of collective defence. This is enshrined in Article 5 which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all members.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an urgent meeting of the nation’s security and defence councils following the incident.
However, Poland did not request a NATO meeting to invoke Article 5, which would escalate the conflict, or Article 4, which triggers a consultation on the identified threat.
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NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said that Ukraine’s defences were “most likely” to blame. After a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, he said: “Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks. But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault.” He added that Russia bears the ultimate responsibility.
Mr Stoltenberg said there was no indication Russia was preparing military action against NATO members, and concluded: “NATO stands united and we will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all allies.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had received assurances from his top commanders that “it wasn’t our missile”. After the incident, he said: “Russian missiles hit Poland. The longer Russia feels impunity, the more threats there will be to anyone within reach of Russian missiles. “To fire missiles at NATO territory! This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a very significant escalation. We must act.”
Poland said that the missile, although “Russian made”, had actually been a Soviet-era relic from Ukraine’s arsenal, fired in defence.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced on Twitter that Polish and American investigators had been joined by Ukrainian experts to examine the incident and determine the causes of the explosion.
A Ukraine air force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said in an interview Friday that the missile’s origin was irrelevant as Russia bears ultimate responsibility.
He said: “Of course, it is necessary to investigate with Polish partners and put an end to this story, because to discuss one missile, which unfortunately killed people, is a great tragedy. But everyone has forgotten that there were a hundred missiles in Ukraine.”
Mr Zelensky’s advisor Andrii Yermak claimed at the Halifax International Security Conference “it’s a little bit not right to say that it’s a Ukrainian rocket or a Russian rocket” before Poland reaches the result of its investigation.