After an “emergency” meeting of the Group of Seven and NATO leaders, President Joe Biden was asked by reporters if it was too early to say whether the missile was from Russia. Biden stated that there is “preliminary information that contests that” and added that “it is unlikely in the lines of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia, but we’ll see.”
On Tuesday, the AP reported that the missile was reportedly intended for Ukraine as Russia carried out an extensive bombing of Ukrainian energy facilities. Regions all over the country were reportedly targeted, including Lviv in the west. The Polish village of Przewodów, where the projectile reportedly struck, is about two hours north of Lviv.
Reports of the missile strike first emerged in Polish media, with firefighters saying two people died in an explosion in Przewodów. Polish Radio ZET also reported that two stray missiles had hit Przewodów, while an anonymous U.S. intelligence official relayed the info to the AP.
Officials in Poland and the United States have yet to confirm the report. A Polish government spokesperson, Piotr Mueller, tweeted that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was holding an emergency meeting about a “crisis situation.”
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said during a news briefing, “We are aware of the press reports alleging that two Russian missiles have struck a location inside Poland near the Ukraine border. I can tell you that we don’t have any information at this time to corroborate those reports and are looking into this further.”
The missile strike could have serious repercussions because Poland is a NATO country, and thus protected under the group’s “collective self-defense” clause. That clause, known as Article 5, stipulates that any attack on one NATO member, is an attack on the whole alliance, permitting members to use military force to defend each other.
The harrowing possibility of the war expanding to include NATO member nations has been looming over since Russia first invaded Ukraine in February. Though Ukraine is not a NATO member — and Russia has demanded it not be allowed to join the alliance — it is bordered by several NATO countries, including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Russia also borders two NATO counties — Estonia and Latvia — while its other neighbor Finland was formally invited to join the alliance in June (as did Sweden).
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks condemned the reported attack on Twitter. “My condolences to our Polish brothers in arms,” he wrote. “Criminal Russian regime fired missiles which target not only Ukrainian civilians but also landed on NATO territory in Poland. Latvia fully stands with Polish friends and condemns this crime.”
Back in March, President Joe Biden affirmed the U.S.’s commitment to Article 5 during a speech in Poland, warning Russia: “Don’t even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory.” He added, “We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.”
This story was updated on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to include comments from President Joe Biden made earlier today.