As the world scrambles to understand if the missile that hit NATO-member Poland, killing two, signals the beginning of World War III, initial findings suggest that it was possibly fired by Ukraine's air defense system to counter a Russian missile. According to Reuters, a NATO source also claimed that President Joe Biden said the missile was probably fired by Ukraine.
Poland on Tuesday said that the missile was Russia-made but Polish President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday said that he has no concrete evidence of who fired the missile. This came as world leaders including Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held an emergency meeting during the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss their stance against Russia in the wake of a possible broadscale war in Europe.
Who Fired the Missile?
Biden on Wednesday said that the missile that exploded in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, may not have been fired from Russia. However, Biden's comments don't rule out the possibility that the missile was fired by Russian aircraft outside the country.
However, preliminary findings also show that the missile may have been fired by Ukraine's air defense system, which also uses Soviet-era weapons. According to reports, the missile was fired by Ukraine to counter a Russian missile that was fired near the border.
It is possible that the missile fired by Ukraine missed the target and landed across the border it shares with Poland.
Russia also has refuted the claims of firing the missile at Poland. Russia's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that an explosion in Polish territory on Tuesday had been caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile and that Russian strikes in Ukraine had been no closer than 35 kilometers from the Polish border.
According to American intelligence sources, Nobody was willing to publicly confirm that the rocket was a Ukrainian air defense missile fired against an approaching Russian munition early on Wednesday. The attack occurred as Russia was heavily bombarding Ukraine on Tuesday, with air raid sirens once again wailing.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that A NATO source said Biden had told world leaders it was a Ukrainian missile.
Poland On High Alert
Although it remains unclear who fired the missile, Poland is still analyzing the possibility of launching the NATO article 4 measure, according to its prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Speaking at a press conference alongside President Duda, Morawiecki noted that it appeared that the legal procedure for consultation—under which a nation can call a meeting when it believes its territory is being violated or threatened—may not have been essential to utilize.
Meanwhile, Warsaw's military was placed on high alert following a meeting of the emergency national security council. "There has been a decision to raise the state of readiness of some combat units and other uniformed services," spokesman Piotr Muller told reporters.
Poland is safeguarded by NATO's commitment to collective defense, which is enshrined in Article 5 of the organization's founding treaty, but how the alliance reacts will likely be greatly impacted by whether the incident was unintentional or deliberate.
According to Polish media, two men in their 60s, a tractor driver named Bogdan C. and a warehouse foreman named Boguslaw W. were killed in the missile attack. Locals claimed the two were offloading grain at a drying facility when the missile struck at 3.40 p.m.
The explosion took place about 900 feet from a housing complex where about 500 people reside. There would have been a lot more casualties if the missile had hit it.
Two whistles were heard, witnesses told Polish media, followed by a tremendous noise when the missile struck, creating a 6-foot deep hole next to a tractor towing the grain.
The dramatic turn of events was preceded by a day of bloodshed and mass damage in Ukraine, with more than 100 Russian missiles striking major population centers, killing three people, and cutting off power to millions of people.
In a phone conversation with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent his condolences in the wake of news of an alleged Russian missile assault on Polish territory.