It’s the middle of the night in Bali when it becomes known that a rocket has landed on NATO territory in Poland. The G20 summit suddenly takes on a different tone. The first concerns: an attack from Russia?
A rocket hit on NATO territory in Poland has turned the holiday island of Bali into a place of crisis diplomacy. The most important heads of state and government from the West were surprised by the news more than 10,000 kilometers away on Wednesday – at the G20 summit of the large industrialized and emerging countries.
Two people lost their lives. Initially there were concerns that the shelling could have come from Russia. Then Polish President Andrzej Duda explained the very likely circumstances.
According to Dudas, the rocket impact in Poland’s border area with Ukraine was not a targeted attack on the NATO country. There is no evidence that the missile was fired by Russia. It is very likely a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, indicates that it was a deliberate attack on Poland.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the projectile fell on the premises of a farm in Przewodow – a village in the far east of the country, less than ten kilometers from the border with Ukraine and thus also from NATO’s eastern border. Two Poles died.
Who launched the rocket?
The missile was believed to have been launched by Ukrainian forces to repel a Russian attack. In its war of aggression, Russia again fired numerous rockets at Ukraine on Tuesday – according to the Ukrainian count, more than 90 rockets and cruise missiles.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said the alliance had no evidence that the missile impact was a deliberate attack. According to preliminary analyses, the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile used against Russian cruise missile attacks. There is also no evidence that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO.
US President Joe Biden was the first to indicate in Bali that the trajectory made it “unlikely” that a missile was fired from Russia. Behind closed doors, he told allies that it could be an anti-aircraft missile from Ukraine.
What is known about the bullet used?
Presumably it is a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile of the S-300 system. Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro announced on Wednesday that debris had been found at the site of the explosion in Przewodow. The S-300 system is of Soviet design and is an integral part of Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defense system, which is extremely busy every day.
How did Poland react?
The EU and NATO member between Germany and Ukraine put parts of its armed forces on increased alert. Warsaw also summoned the Russian ambassador and alerted NATO. There was also the question of whether a procedure under Article 4 of the NATO treaty would be initiated. According to Wednesday’s findings, however, Poland no longer saw an absolute need for this. According to Stoltenberg, such a procedure was then dispensed with because the incident did not have the characteristics of an attack.
What does Article 4 regulate?
It provides for consultations if one of the NATO countries sees itself threatened from the outside. Specifically, it states: “The parties will consult each other if, in the opinion of one of them, the integrity of the area, the political independence or the security of one of the parties is threatened.” The article has been invoked seven times since the alliance was founded in 1949 – most recently on February 24, the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This was applied for at the time by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
How did Poland’s partners react?
At the time of the explosion, most of the heads of state and government of the G20 countries were having dinner in the open air – Bali is seven hours ahead. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who represented Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, had already left the island. The morning after, Biden then convened the crisis meeting. In a photo published by the German site, Biden, Scholz and Co. can be seen with serious faces.
A statement was later released stating: “We offer Poland our full support and assistance in the ongoing investigation.” At the same time, Russia was held responsible for “barbaric attacks”. From the point of view of the G7 and NATO countries, Russia is to blame for the two deaths in Poland – because without Russia’s attacks on Ukraine the incident would not have happened at all.