US source: Poland was hit by stray Ukrainian air defense missile

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Aftermath of the missile hit in Przewodow, Poland.
Aftermath of the missile hit in Przewodow, Poland. Source: SCANPIX/via REUTERS

Estonia is consulting with allies after a "Russian-made missile" fell in Poland killing two people on Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The president, defense and foreign ministers have called the situation "concerning" and "serious".

Poland confirmed the news on Tuesday night, several hours after the incident took place. It said the investigation is ongoing but did not say who had fired the missile. Poland later said it was "highly likely" to be making an Article 4 request, meaning consultations with NATO allies, while US sources have said that initial information suggests the projectile was an air defense missile fired by Ukraine, in an attempt to down an incoming Russian missile during heavy fighting in western Ukraine.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed solidarity with Poland and said the news was concerning.

"Latest news from Poland is most concerning. We are consulting closely with Poland and other Allies. Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory. We're in full solidarity with our close ally Poland," the ministry wrote on social media.

The Associated Press reported that a US intelligence official confirmed Russian missiles crossed into Poland, killing two people.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an urgent meeting of the Polish national security and defense affairs committee on Tuesday evening.

Reinsalu: NATO will defend every inch of its territory

Coalition talks. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) called the incident "extremely serious".

"It is an extremely serious incident. We are in active communication with Poland to find out more details about today's events. Understandably, NATO will defend every inch of its territory and Estonia's commitment to collective defense is unwavering. We are consulting with our Allies about a united and resolute response," he said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening.

Leaders in Latvia and Lithuania also expressed full solidarity with Poland and said NATO would defend its territory.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the allies are consulting and that it is important to ascertain all the facts.

"I offered my condolences for the loss of life. NATO is monitoring the situation and Allies are closely consulting. Important that all facts are established," he wrote on social media.

President: Allies stand together shoulder to shoulder

President Alar Karis said he is in close contact with Polish President Andrzej Duda over the incident.

"Very concerning news about missiles hitting Poland and killing two people. I am in close contact with President Andrzej Duda to consult on further activities. Estonia, like all Allies, stand[s] together shoulder to shoulder for every inch of NATO's territory," he wrote on social media.

What could happen next?

Both Estonia and Poland are members of the 30-strong NATO alliance.

The organization has a collective defense clause, Article 5, which means "an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies" but experts say this would not apply in case of an accident.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said it is not yet known what Poland's next steps will be.

The country could trigger NATO's Article 4 — discussions with other members when "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened" — or convene the EU defense ministers, he said.

(1:23 a.m.) Update: Poland confirms missile hit village

Poland's foreign ministry confirmed a "Russian-made" missile hit the village of Przewodow at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday close to the Ukrainian border killing two people.

The statement does not say who fired the missile and both sides in the conflict have used Russian-made munitions, the BBC wrote.

Politico Europe reported President Andrzej Duda saying: "We do not have conclusive evidence at this time of who launched the missile."

But Warsaw did say the incident took place after "another hours-long, massive shelling" of Ukraine by Russia.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs also summoned the Russian ambassador and "demanded [an] immediate and detailed explanation". Moscow has denied responsibility for the missile in Przewodow.

Earlier in the evening, a spokesman confirmed the deaths but not the incident itself. It also put the military on high readiness and said it was discussing the "need to activate NATO Article 4".

The explosion occurred after Russia fired missiles at cities across Ukraine on Tuesday destroying critical infrastructure. Some hit the western city of Lviv, less than 80 km from the border with Poland.

(7.39 a.m.) Update: NATO plane tracked missile trajectory

The missile which struck Poland Tuesday evening was tracked by NATO planes, which have been conducting regular surveillance over member states close to Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24.

A NATO official confirmed the missile's trajectory had been tracked, CNN reports, though declined to say who launched it or where it was fired from.

US President Biden: Missile unlikely to have been fired from Russia

POTUS Joe Biden says that the missile which hit Poland flew via a trajectory which makes it "unlikely" that it was fired from Russian territory, The Guardian reports.

Biden, who has communicated on the issue with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, made his remarks as leaders of the G7 countries held an emergency meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where they had already gathered for a meeting within the G20 format.

Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile said on Tuesday evening that Russian missiles hit Poland, Reuters reports.

Poland likely to request consultations under NATO Article 4

Reuters reports that Poland has said it is likely to invoke Article 4 of the NATO Treaty (ie. consultation with allies - see above) in response to the incident.

President Duda has informed NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and US President Biden that it is "highly likely" that his country's ambassador to NATO will make an Article 4 request.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has also talked to Chief of the National Security Bureau of Poland Jacek Siewiera, the White House press service says.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said: "We cannot confirm the reports or any of the details at this time. We will determine what happened and what the appropriate next steps would be."

The G7 emergency meeting in Bali was attended by US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni and European Council President Charles Michel.

Biden, Sunak and Scholz also spoke separately over the phone with Polish President Andrzej Duda, The Guardian reports.

Moscow: Russian missile claims 'provocation'

Russia's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday evening that the claims of the missile strike being of Russian origin constitute a "provocation", while Kremlin mouthpiece Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about the situation in Poland as of Tuesday evening, UK daily The Guardian reports.

(7.53 a.m.) Update: US officials: Initial info suggests missile was fired by Ukraine, at Russian forces

US officials say that preliminary information suggests that the missile had been fired by Ukrainian forces, AP reports.

Three officials, speaking anonymously due to a lack of clearance to speak publicly on the issue, told AP that preliminary assessments suggested the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile, during a major attack against Ukraine's electrical infrastructure Tuesday.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 9:33 p.m. to add a comment from Urmas Reinsalu and information about NATO's Article 5; at 10:17 p.m. to add comments from Hanno Pevkur and information about Article 4; at 10:30 p.m. to add comments from Alar Karis; at 1:23 a.m. to add additional information about the incident; at 7.39 a.m. to include information on NATO's tracking of the missile, comments from US President Joe Biden, Poland's likely request to trigger Article 4, and at 7.53 a.m. to add reports that the missile may have been fired by Ukraine, at an incoming Russian projectile.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

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