The missile strike on Poland will be a test for Nato

The missile strike on Poland will be a test for Nato

Updated: 16 days, 12 hours, 55 minutes, 18 seconds ago

Since the start of the war, there has been a risk of Ukraine’s neighbours being caught in crossfire – especially when Russia turned to a missile-based strategy. This now seems to have happened, with two rockets hitting the Polish village of Przewodów, nearly six miles from Ukraine’s border, killing two farm workers. The stakes are obviously high: if Russian missiles struck a Nato member for the first time, that has implications. So many implications that Joe Biden said it is ‘unlikely’ that the missile was fired from Russia while Turkey said it must ‘respect’ Moscow’s fervent denial that Russia (which had just fired 100 missiles at Ukraine in a third wave of attacks) had anything to do with the strike. Biden added, when asked about reports that the missile had come from Russia: ‘There is preliminary information which contests that. I don’t want to say that until we have completely investigated… but it’s unlikely, [due to] the trajectory, that it was fired from Russia.’ AP said US intelligence officials have confirmed, off the record, that these were indeed Russian missiles – but officially, the White House said nothing more than it will investigate.

The Baltics have talked about invoking Article Four of the Nato treaty, where members ‘consult together’ when the ‘territorial integrity’ of any member is threatened. (This is distinct from Article Five, the mutual-defence clause.) Latvia’s defence minister has called for this. ‘Every inch of Nato territory must be defended!’ said Gitanas Nausėda, President of Lithuania. Estonia’s foreign ministry has declared its country ‘ready to defend every inch of Nato territory’. Poland, for its part, has said it will consult Nato allies: an emergency meeting of Nato ambassadors will be chaired this morning.

It’s not the first time that Ukraine’s neighbours have been caught in the crossfire: Moldova had already been hit by falling missile debris and electricity shutdowns. But to fire a missile near the Polish borders, taking even the outside risk of hitting Nato territory, would be quite an escalation. Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland, has called an urgent meeting of the national security committee.

The Kremlin said the reports were not just false but ‘a deliberate provocation to escalate the situation’ saying that ‘no targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border have been hit by Russian weapons’. Hungary, Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the EU, appeared alarmed by the news: Viktor Orbán has called an emergency meeting of his national security council. Ukraine has suspended Russian oil deliveries to Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia – blaming Russian airstrikes on a power plant near the branch of the Druzhba (‘Friendship’) pipeline which moves Russian gas to eastern Europe. Russian airstrikes today hit a transformer station near the border with Belarus, cutting off electricity to one of the pipeline’s pumping stations.

Not many are suggesting that the missile was intended for Poland. But there can be no serious doubt that Poland was hit. As Putin resorts to missile strikes, we may be entering a phase of the war where Nato members are caught in the crossfire. The stakes are so high that even admitting that this has happened could be provocative.

For decades, Nato countries have war-gamed this scenario. Now, it’s real. We are about to see how they will respond.

The post The missile strike on Poland will be a test for Nato appeared first on The Spectator.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
hit counter