Support 100 years of independent journalism.

What does the Poland missile explosion mean for Nato and Article 5?

What the incident means for the Nato alliance and Article 5.

By Katie Stallard

A suspected Russian missile strike has killed two people in Poland, according to a senior US intelligence official quoted by the Associated Press. The projectiles hit the village of Przewodów, near the border with Ukraine, on Tuesday 15 November. If confirmed, it would be the first Russian strike on territory outside Ukraine and a significant development given Poland’s status as a member of the Nato alliance.

The Polish government called an emergency meeting of national security and defence ministers on Tuesday to discuss what prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s spokesman described as a “crisis situation”. The Polish military’s readiness level was also raised. Officials had released no further details about the incident at the time of writing.

As a Nato member, Poland is protected by the alliance’s principle of collective defence, enshrined in Article 5 of the founding treaty, which commits members to treat an attack on one as an attack against all the members of the alliance. Article 5 has only been invoked once in the alliance’s history, after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

Yet there is no automatic process to trigger a Nato response and Poland’s government would first have to decide to invoke Article 5, a step it might not take if it determines that the attack was not deliberately targeted against its territory. The strike took place close to the Ukrainian border during a wave of coordinated attacks against the country’s power infrastructure in one of the heaviest aerial bombardments to date.

Poland could instead choose to invoke Article 4 — as it, along with a group of Eastern European and Baltic states, did at the start of the war in February — which requires Nato members to meet and reaffirm their commitment to collective defence. Even if Warsaw did decide to trigger Article 5, it would then be up to each Nato member to determine the appropriate response — and there is no obligation to use military force.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

With world leaders currently meeting in Bali for the G20 summit, the attack will focus even greater attention on the war and calls by the US and its allies to impose greater pressure on Russia to end the fighting. The incident may also reignite concerns about the danger of the conflict developing beyond Ukraine’s borders and strengthen calls by countries such as China for an immediate ceasefire to be sought.

Content from our partners
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Data on cloud will change the way you interact with the government

[See also: Poland missile explosion highlights risk of escalation in war in Ukraine]

Topics in this article : , , , ,