According to media reports and statements by senior security officials, two Russian rockets landed on Polish territory in the village of Presvodov near the Ukrainian border. It is said to be misfired missiles.
Earlier, Russia launched a massive rocket attack on Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Air Force fired 100 missiles.
The impact site in Poland is about 40 kilometers northwest of the Ukrainian Dobrodvir thermal power station. Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Kalushchenko described the latest Russian attack as the biggest attack on the country’s energy system since the start of the war. Not sure if there is a connection.
US Defense Official Talks About Russian Missiles
According to the Associated Press, a US defense official has reportedly confirmed that Russian missiles triggered the explosions in Poland. CNN, citing a European military and a U.S. official, said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to speak with his Polish counterpart later in the evening.
A spokeswoman for the US State Department said Tuesday evening that the department was aware of the report, but did not have information to confirm it at this time. The Pentagon is now reviewing the reports, the Associated Press reported. However, a spokesman insisted that the US would defend “every inch” of NATO territory.
According to experts, images showing remnants of rockets point to S-300 missiles, however, they may be of Russian or Ukrainian origin. Ukraine currently uses them for anti-aircraft defense.
Moscow denies the reports
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry dismissed reports that the missiles were Russian, calling them “a provocation to escalate the situation”. “No targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border were hit by Russian weapons,” official channels of the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Stanisław Koziej, the former head of Poland’s National Security Bureau, told TVN24: “We have to wait for a detailed explanation of this situation. I think this is an incident, a mistake caused by Russia’s use of highly accurate old-type missiles.
2 people are said to have died in the blast. The local fire brigade confirmed the explosions to local media – but said the cause was still unknown. The blasts reportedly took place near a grain drying plant.
Meanwhile, a Polish television station posted a short video on Twitter, purportedly showing a cereal plant after the explosions. It shows a wrecked tractor surrounded by rubble. Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry has denied that the videos and photos published in the media and social networks “have nothing to do with Russian weapons.”
The Council of Ministers for National Defense met in Poland
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki later convened a ministerial committee on national defense and security, a Polish government spokesman said.
According to the PAP news agency, the NATO member state’s cabinet will meet at 9:00 pm CET.
Reactions from Europe: Solidarity with Poland
German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbach wrote on Twitter that the situation was being closely monitored and was in contact with “our Polish friends” and NATO allies.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, tweeted his condolences to the families of those killed. “I was shocked by the news that a rocket or other explosives had killed people on Polish territory.” The EU body of heads of state and government stands with Poland.
In an evening address to the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “Russian terrorism” is not limited to Ukraine. “Russian Missiles Hit Poland… This is a Russian attack on public security. This is a significant increase, and we must act,” Zelenskyj said.
The impact in Poland was “not an accident, but a deliberately planned ‘hello’ from Russia disguised as a ‘mistake’,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted in the evening. “It happens when evil goes unpunished (…). The Russian reign of terror must end.”
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Babriks tweeted his condolences, blaming Russia for the attack: “The criminal Russian regime not only targeted Ukrainian citizens but also fired missiles into NATO territory in Poland. Latvia fully stands with its Polish friends and condemns this crime.
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a clear statement on the incident: they are consulting closely with Poland and other allies, it said on Twitter. Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė also expressed her condolences to the families of the victims. They will consult with Poland and NATO allies.
What are the consequences of the incident?
The case is considered sensitive because Poland is a member of the NATO alliance and has an Article 5 obligation to provide assistance in the event of an attack on an alliance ally. However, the coalition decides on a case-by-case basis whether this will be implemented. It was the first time since Russia’s full-scale war of aggression that the attacker’s missiles hit NATO territory.
“It is too early to say whether this was a planned attack on NATO territory or missiles that missed their target in Ukraine,” former NATO planning director Fabrice Bothier told Sky News in an interview.
“But even so, there will be grounds for applying Article 4. Invoking this article, Poland may invite all NATO partners to NATO headquarters for consultation and to take concrete action. These may be of a defensive nature or actions to strengthen Polish or Ukrainian air defenses.
According to Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks, NATO could set up air defenses in Poland and “part of Ukrainian territory”. “Whether intentional or accidental – such a situation is unacceptable,” he wrote on Twitter. (with dpa)
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