Russia’s war in Ukraine rocked NATO this week, after a missile exploded in Poland near the Ukrainian border, killing two people.
Shortly after the explosion, Polish President Andrzej Duda said the explosion in the village of Przewodow “is likely to have been made in Russia” and indicated that an investigation was ongoing.
His words shocked the whole of Europe with NATO leaders offering support to Poland and showing their will to defend every inch of the military alliance’s core.
On television, some military experts said that this is the time when NATO could invoke Article 4 – dialogue between NATO countries when a member of the alliance is threatened – or Article 5 – when an attack by one NATO member means any other member. they will see this as an act of aggression against the entire alliance, and NATO can do whatever it sees fit to protect its territories.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also called the explosion in Poland a “significant escalation” and added that it was necessary to take action as it was an attack by Russian missiles on collective security.
In the midst of these discussions about how NATO should act, the Secretary General of the alliance Jens Stoltenberg kept his position and instead called a meeting with the representatives of the alliance, while waiting for more from Poland.
A day after the attack, Polish President Duda said that the missile should be part of Ukraine’s defense and did not ask for a NATO issue.
‘This is not Ukraine’s problem’
Stoltenberg assured reporters in Brussels that a preliminary assessment showed that the incident was likely caused by Ukrainian artillery fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian naval weapons.
“But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s problem,” he said, stressing that Russia was the cause of the war in Ukraine.
Jim Townsend, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO under President Barack Obama, welcomed NATO’s approach.
“I think that NATO did a good job of thinking and being careful, writing the story in accordance with the facts. I think that the US also did it in an environment where everything was tainted by a lot of conflicting information there,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Contradictory information was picked up mainly by the media and became a distraction,” he added.
Speaking at the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, US President Joe Biden said it was “impossible” for the missile to be shot down by Russia and its restraint until a proper investigation was praised by The Kremlin.
But the Kremlin accused other Western countries, especially Poland, of acting “stupidly”.
“We have also seen the reaction of Russophobic people, which was not real,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters a day after the explosion in Poland.
Harry Nedelcu, head of geopolitics at Rasmussen Global, who heads the Ukrainian Advisory Service, told Al Jazeera that the important question for countries to ask after this incident is why the explosion happened in the first place.
“This happened on the day when Russian missiles hit several Ukrainian cities, with the aim of terrorizing civilians and targeting power grids. Ukraine also used its air defense systems. So how you look at it, the story is important,” he said.
Townsend said that the current situation in the West and NATO should focus on deploying more air defense systems to Poland and the countries bordering Russia and Ukraine.
“They may need some patriotic actions or something along those lines because there may be other missiles on the road as the war continues. At some point it could be a real Russian missile and we have to be ready,” he said.
‘The deal has been successful’
Speaking to the media in Brussels, the head of NATO Stoltenberg indicated that this event has confirmed the need to strengthen the eastern side and support Ukraine.
“NATO has already begun to increase its presence on its eastern border since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine in February, with more ground troops, as well as increased air and naval power. This has also increased our ability to monitor developments between NATO Allies such as Poland and Ukraine,” he said.
Stoltenberg added that many NATO allies are focusing on sending air defense equipment to Ukraine and the alliance is also sending drone systems to Ukraine to counter Russian missiles.
“In the coming winter months, defense equipment like this will help Ukraine because we already see that the country’s defense is controlling most of the Russian weapons. So now it is almost time to close the gap and make sure that the Russian weapons do not hit their targets,” added Nedelcu.
Meanwhile, as NATO countries continue to help Poland investigate how the blast happened, Townsend hopes that some kind of “future report” detailing the investigation and the way forward will be found.
“In the past, NATO countries have decided to be prudent and cautious based on evidence. The alliance has been successful in dealing with this crisis but many lessons are being learned as NATO moves through this war and supports Ukraine,” he told Al Jazeera.
“So a lesson to look at what NATO did well and where more work needs to be done to prevent future incidents like this can be useful,” he added.