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Missiles Striking Poland, Attack or Miscalculation?

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

The last few days have been very intensive for the foreign policy of states placed in central-eastern Europe. The Polish territory has been attacked by an unknown missile, from an unknown attacker. Who is responsible for the attack and what are the consequences of it?

By Mariusz Rzepa


Tuesday 15 November became a striking day for a Polish perception of foreign policy. Coming from the western border of Ukraine, a S-300 missile struck Polish territory, killing two people on a grain farm. The whole situation took place in Przewadów, a Polish village 10km away from the Ukrainian border.

The information was revoked in the general mobilization of the Polish defence ministry and army. Later that day, PM Mateusz Morawiecki merged with President Andrzej Duda within the deliberations of the National Security Bureau (NSB).

This council is only convened in exceptional situations when the country’s well-being is at stake. As a result of that meeting, the NSB committee had spoken to NATO chief Stoltenberg to impose the Article 4 procedure of NATO’s Treaty.

The Article 4 of NATO’s Treaty

NATO’s Article 4 states 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.” Evoking the article would entail that NATO would actively start reacting to the ongoing changes in the situation. It would not encompass a military reaction.

That evening, Duda also spoke to Biden to inform him about the mobilization of the Polish army. Furthermore, the Polish president added that the investigation in Przewadów had begun.

The aim was to determine who killed the two innocent Polish citizens. In addition, the investigation had to find out who launched the missiles. From this, two suspects followed. It could either be a Russian missile or one from Ukraine due to an error in their missile defence system.

The Position of Foreign Countries

Meanwhile, a flood of support messages came from Polish allies. This includes tweets from Denmark, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, and tweets of condolences, declaring immediate help in case of further attacks. These came from the USA, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Czech Republic, to name a few.

More importantly, Ukrainian President Zelensky published a video, claiming that Russia’s missiles hit Poland, naming the situation a “significant escalation”, and an “act of terror”.

Alternatively, Russia actively denied responsibility for the incident. The Russian minister of defence stated that the weaponry involved is not Russian and that the “Polish mass media and officials are committing a deliberate provocation to escalate the situation”.

The Culprit Was Found

The next day, the Polish investigative body collaborated with NATO, analyzing the track rates of the missiles. A spokesman of the Polish Cabinet claimed that the explosions were caused by strayed Russian rockets.

Immediately after, the Russian ambassador was contacted to provide a “detailed explanation” of what happened. After the discussion, President Duda announced that the missile attack was not deliberate, stating that „we have absolutely no hint or circumstantial evidence that would allow us to conclude that it was an attack on Poland”.

Due to this, Duda said that Poland does not intend to make any steps toward an armed clash with Russia. Neither Poland nor NATO declared war.

Further Thoughts

The whole incident leaves serious doubts regarding the security of Poland’s territory. Poland is considered to be one of the first attacked NATO member states if a potential clash with Russia were to happen.

Throughout the last few years, the eastern border has been seriously fortified with military technology and manpower. All of those are to ensure the safety of Poland and its citizens.

Following many public NATO speeches, the airspace of Poland is supposed to be protected by high-tech anti-missile systems. Yet, last Tuesday, the system did not work, and the radars did not detect the upcoming missiles on time. This revokes the concern: will the country be safe, in case of a real hazard?

Sources: TVN24, Business Insider, Euronews

Written by Mariusz Rzepa

November 2022

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