Does The Poland Missile Strikes Warrant An Article 5 Response From NATO?

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A recent news article published in the News Sky source states asks Is Poland missile strike grounds for Article 5 response from NATO?

Not caused by a Ukrainian weapon

There have been contradicting claims about a missile that struck a village in Poland on Tuesday night, with Ukraine alleging in the last hour that it was not caused by a Ukrainian weapon.

This directly contradicts suggestions by Poland and NATO that the damage was “probably” caused by a rogue Ukrainian air defence rocket – but both said there is “no indication” it was deliberate.

Here, Dr Ben Nutt, an expert in politics and international relations at the University of Hertfordshire, has told Sky News what might happen next…

Following yesterday’s missile strikes at the Polish village of Przewodow, the possibility that Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, NATO’s self-defence clause, could be triggered has become a popular talking point.

But, do these missile strikes warrant an Article 5 response from NATO?

The answer here is: maybe

Article 5 stipulates that: “an armed attack against one… shall be considered an attack against them all”. However, it is not automatically triggered, but depends on two factors: does Poland want to invoke Article 5, and do NATO members want to respond?

Firstly, as a NATO member Poland has the right to collective defence in the event of an armed attack. So initially Poland must decide whether they wish to invoke this right – something that has only ever been done once before by the US on 12 September 2001. Given the geographic proximity of Poland to Ukraine, however, they may be reluctant to escalate the conflict further.

Secondly, the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s main political body, must convene to discuss their collective response. The North Atlantic Council would consider the nature and gravity of the attack, whether there is the desire for a response, and who would carry it out. Here the Washington Treaty leaves a void for political interpretation.

So, where are we?

The current fall line of both NATO and its members is that the missile strike was “accidental” and came from a Ukrainian missile defence system, not Russia. So even if Poland did decide to invoke Article 5, it is unlikely there would be much support for a direct military response from NATO members.

In fact, there is precedent for accidental missile strikes not being considered an act of aggression, as seen by the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by NATO forces in 1999.

But this does not mean that NATO and Poland will completely ignore the issue.

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Source: News Sky

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