November 17, 2022

Missile Hits Poland

NATO member Poland and the head of the military alliance both said Wednesday that a missile strike in Polish farmland that killed two people appeared to be unintentional and was probably launched by air defenses in neighboring Ukraine. Russia had been bombarding Ukraine at the time in an attack that savaged its power grid.” AP News

Both sides praise NATO’s response but worry about the potential for escalation:

“It is important for NATO’s leaders to remain clear-headed and not rashly jump to conclusions. It is also vital they show their steadfast commitment to Poland, lest Russia interpret an overly cautious response as a sign of weakness. So far, alliance members have handled Tuesday’s crisis with acuity. President Biden spoke to [Polish President Andrzej] Duda and emphasized America’s commitment to NATO, while European leaders rallied behind Poland. At the same time, the allies largely avoided prematurely casting blame. Poland in particular deserves praise for its handling of the situation…

“For tragedies like this to be avoided in the future, NATO members will need to take decisive action both inside their borders and in support of Ukraine. Stationing more anti-aircraft/anti-missile systems near the Polish border — preferably from multiple nations to show solidarity — would go a long way towards calming frayed nerves on the alliance’s eastern flank and providing added capacity to protect allied airspace.”
John Pietro, Spectator World

“Though there have been other close calls in this war, this is the first on NATO soil. NATO’s official response was a careful balance: waiting for more information, but also coordinating closely among leaders. The tempered responses made clear a prevailing desire to avoid ramping up tensions. Many heads of NATO-allied countries were already gathered in Indonesia for the G-20, and so met there… What could have been a potentially volatile and unpredictable situation looks largely resolved, even as it is a reminder of the ever-present risks of an intentional or accidental escalation as the war continues alongside NATO’s borders.”
Jen Kirby, Vox

“Biden—a frequent target of his political rivals for his alleged weakness on the world stage—was likely the one most responsible for [defusing the situation]… On social media, users quickly made the subject of ‘World War 3’ a trending topic. News organizations quickly filed explainer pieces outlining what it would take for NATO to invoke Article 5 of its charter, drawing Poland and its allies into the war…

“Abroad and under intense media scrutiny Tuesday, Biden was among the first world leaders to express doubt the strike on Poland came from Russian sources. In consecutive media briefings that afternoon, officials with both the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon shied away from speculating on the source of attacks or placing immediate blame on Russia for the incident… As the fog of the incident began to clear, even Russia itself, which has regularly accused the western world of being the true aggressor in its conflict against Ukraine, praised Biden for his restraint.”
Nick Reynolds, Newsweek

“If we can take anything away from this event, it’s probably a timely reminder that the war in Ukraine still has the potential to spin out of control at any point. Poland didn’t wind up invoking Article IV of the NATO charter, which would have begun ‘high-level consultations’ among the members intended to determine whether Article V needed to be invoked and call for retaliatory action against Russia by NATO in their defense. But Poland’s leaders admitted that they discussed doing so in the early hours of the event.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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