Polish defense officials meet after reports of deadly explosion as Russian missiles strike nearby Ukraine


Poland held an emergency meeting of national security officials on Tuesday after Polish media reported that two people were killed near the border with Ukraine.

Polish officials have confirmed that two people were killed after an explosion in the Khrubieszow district in eastern Poland. Government spokesman Piotr Muller said a team of experts was clarifying the situation and would work through the night to clarify details of what he called a “serious” situation.

He added that Poland, which is in touch with its NATO partners and U.S. counterparts, was boosting the readiness of some of the country’s forces.

It was unclear where the projectiles came from, but they fell into the territory of the NATO member at roughly the same time that Russia launched its largest wave of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities in more than a month.

Polish media showed images of badly struck and overturned agricultural vehicles at the site of the blast, near the town of Przewodo, about four miles west of the Ukrainian border.

A local resident told CNN they heard a terrifying “whoosh” as the projectile flew over the town. An administrator at a local school said the force of the blast shook classroom windows about 200 meters from the school gate.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki convened a committee of the Council of Ministers for National Security and Defense Affairs after reports of the projectile emerged on Tuesday evening local time, a Polish government spokesman said.

With little known about the projectile’s origin, the incident has fueled speculation that it may represent an accidental spillover from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has blamed Russia, describing the deadly blast as a “major escalation” – a claim that Polish authorities have not confirmed.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied targeting the border and called the Polish media reports a “deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation,” according to a brief statement late Tuesday.

“Statements by Polish media and officials that so-called ‘Russian’ missiles landed on the Przewodow settlement area are deliberate provocations aimed at escalating the situation,” it said, adding that “there were no strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish border. ”

It added that photos of the wreckage released by Polish media “come from the scene in the village of Przewodow and have nothing to do with Russian weapons”.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller speaks to the media after the explosion near the Ukrainian border.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday after speaking with Polish President Andrzej Duda about the bombing that it was “important to establish all the facts”.

“My condolences for the loss of life. NATO is monitoring the situation and allies are consulting closely. It is important that all facts are established,” Stoltenberg said in a post on Twitter.

NATO allies have expressed concern over the reports. Some were cautious in their statements, speculating or corroborating the source of the projectile.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden “has heard the report from Poland and will soon be meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda.”

A senior White House official said they had not confirmed any rockets or missiles hit Poland, but U.S. officials are now trying to figure out what happened.

U.S. State Department chief deputy spokesman Vedant Patel echoed the report that the U.S. could not confirm reports that the missile hit Polish territory, killing two people.

“We have seen these reports from Poland and are working with the Polish government and our NATO partners to gather additional information,” Patel told a news conference. “We cannot confirm the reports or any details at this time.”

Following reports of events in Poland, French President Emmanuel Macron called for talks at the G20 summit on Wednesday, which will also be attended by Biden, according to a spokesman for the Elysee Palace on Tuesday.

A French defense source told CNN that France was “extremely cautious” and that officials would not comment until they were able to “analyze all available information.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said they were “investigating the reports and are in close contact with allies”.

The Baltic NATO countries were more hawkish in their statement, emphasizing their readiness to defend NATO territory.

Estonia called the news “most worrying,” according to a Twitter thread from the Estonian foreign ministry.

“Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory,” it added.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said he was concerned by the news and said “Lithuania stands firmly behind Poland”.

“Every inch of NATO territory must be defended!” he added on social media.

Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks put the blame on Russia, although Polish authorities have yet to confirm that a Russian missile landed on Polish territory.

“Condolences to our Polish comrades-in-arms. The criminal Russian regime fired missiles not only against Ukrainian civilians, but also on Polish NATO territory. Latvia fully stands with its Polish friends and condemns this crime,” Pabrik S wrote.

NATO is an organization of 30 North American and European countries. According to NATO, its purpose “is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means”.

The alliance was formed in 1949 in response to the start of the Cold War. Its original purpose was to protect the West from the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, many former Soviet countries have joined NATO, much to Putin’s chagrin.

The most famous aspect of the alliance is Article 5 of the treaty, which, if invoked, means that “an attack on one ally is considered an attack on all allies”.

Article 5 has only been invoked once, in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

However, the coalition can take collective defense measures without invoking Article 5 — and it did so in the case of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The State Department’s Patel said repeatedly on Tuesday that he would not discuss assumptions when asked about NATO’s Articles 4 and 5, but said intent was “important” in determining a response.

“As I said, we’ll determine what happened, we’ll determine the appropriate next steps, but as I said, this has only happened in the last hour, so we’re still taking significant time to figure out exactly what happened. Facts,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long complained that NATO has expanded its borders by taking in eastern European countries that were once part of the Soviet Union – meaning Russia now shares land borders with the world’s largest military alliance, weakening its geopolitics Power is in what was once Moscow’s sphere of influence.

As recently as February, he demanded that NATO shrink its borders to 1997 before Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the two Baltic states that share a border with Russia, join NATO.

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