An explosion in a border village that left two dead sparked hectic NATO talks. There is no evidence of targeted fire from Russia. There is probably a connection with the missile attacks on neighboring Ukraine.
A day after President Volodymyr Zelensky’s surprise visit to the liberated city of Kherson, Russia escalated the war with dozens of missile attacks in Ukraine. At the same time, there were two explosions in the Polish border village of Przewodow, probably related to these attacks: suspected to be Russian missiles, which immediately caused great unrest in Western capitals and caused the Moscow stock market to crash. According to official information, two people died.
At midnight, the Polish government announced that the explosion in the village was caused by a “Russian-made” rocket. However, President Andrzej Duda later toned down the statement, saying it was highly likely but the investigation was still ongoing. It is not clear who fired the rocket.
On the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, the group of seven major Western industrialized countries (G-7) met on Wednesday, among other things. US President Joe Biden then tried to calm concerns. Based on the trajectory of the missile, it is unlikely that it was fired from Russia. Biden also spoke with Duda on the phone and offered his condolences to Polák.
Near the Ukrainian power plant
A likely explanation for the incident would be that a Ukrainian Soviet-made interceptor missile accidentally crashed over the border. The AP agency, citing US government sources, said on Wednesday that Washington was leaning towards this preliminary assessment.
Immediately near Przevodov on the Ukrainian side of the border is the Dobrotvirska power plant, which is an obvious target of Russian attacks. Some observers also theorized that it could be a downed Russian missile.
Warsaw takes the explosions very seriously and convened the National Security Council that evening. Part of the armed forces was put on high alert. Because of the fatal incident, NATO ambassadors are meeting for a crisis meeting on Wednesday morning.
A government spokesman in Warsaw said earlier that a decision had been made to examine together with NATO allies whether there were grounds for initiating the procedure under Article 4 of the NATO treaty. Article 4 provides for consultations between NATO states if one of them sees a threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or its own security. Various European heads of government have already pledged their support to Warsaw.
Moscow called the reports a provocation, although claims that no rockets were fired at an area near Ukraine’s western border are demonstrably false. The city of Lviv reported massive attacks on the power source.
While the most likely explanation for the explosion is an accident, it has some potential for escalation: it would be the first time since the February attack on Ukraine that a NATO member country has been directly affected by war.
This could draw the West even deeper into the Ukraine war than it already is over arms supplies. How tense the situation in the region is, the fact that Hungary also convened the National Security Council showed on Tuesday. In addition to the situation in Poland, he spoke about the almost simultaneous stoppage of oil supplies via the Druzhba pipeline from Ukraine.
The explosion in Poland, combined with powerful missiles aimed at the neighboring country’s critical infrastructure, is also likely to boost Ukraine’s demands for supplies of air defense systems. Kyiv would like more support from the West to protect its electricity and water supplies more effectively.
Tuesday’s explosions claimed several lives. They left 10 million households, mainly in the north and west, temporarily without electricity and emergency shutdowns were implemented. In Kyiv and Kharkiv, the metro stopped working temporarily, resulting in traffic chaos. When the situation would return to normal was unclear for now, as was the question of how sustainable the destruction of infrastructure would be and how stable the system would be.
Since after almost nine months of aggressive war, Moscow still has no quantifiable results and has had to begin a humiliating retreat in the south, attacks against civilian targets act as a means of revenge and weakening the will to defend. For Ukrainians, this means great difficulties in everyday life, which are most extreme in the liberated Kherson, which has to do without water and electricity for several days. However, the motivation to expel Russians from their own territory tends to grow as a result.