Two people were killed when a missile crashed into Polish territory last week, sparking widespread outrage in the media.
Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which governs collective security, was invoked, which was not unexpected given the charges hurled against Russia hours after the event.
Naturally, this would have been the spark that ignited World War III.
But it turns out that the West wasn’t planning on going to war with Russia directly. Officials from Western Europe and the United States scrambled to dampen their outrage and contain the crisis.
Just who is to blame here?
The event in Przewodow, Poland, on the border with Ukraine, has again called into question the effectiveness of NATO’s procedures for coordinated defense. Within a day after the attack, it was determined that an S-300 anti-aircraft rocket was responsible for the incident and that two persons had been killed.
Poland’s foreign ministry quickly released a statement following the event, saying that they had determined that the object that had crashed into the town was a “Russian-made missile.” While Moscow and Kiev were still members of the Soviet Union, the S-300 was developed. Before that point, there was no such thing as a sovereign Russian state.
Andrzej Duda, president of Poland, was less certain, claiming that “most likely, that it was a Moscow rocket” despite the lack of such evidence.
Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreyev was called into Poland’s Foreign Ministry in Warsaw. As everything was going on, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an emergency session of the National Security Bureau and the Council for National Security and Defense. Some of the country’s military installations were placed on high alert after the meeting’s decision.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the Ukrainian S-300 system had fired the missile that crashed in Poland.
The ministry went on to say that Russia had not hit any sites within 35 kilometers of the Ukrainian-Polish border and that all targeted attacks had occurred within Ukrainian territory.
The Russian military said it could prove that every missile it had fired had hit its target and that any claims that its rockets had landed in Poland were false.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, concurred, saying that the event in Poland did not provide a “reasonable pretext” for escalation. Some of the Western politicians’ comments were described as “another example of fanatical Russophobia” by him.
Warsaw eventually admitted internally that it had unfairly accused Moscow. According to Duda, the missile most likely originated in Ukrainian air defenses.
The leaders of the West would rather not level any harsh criticism at Russia. In response to claims that a Russian missile had landed in Poland, the US Defense Department indicated that it lacked the proof necessary to make such a claim. Vice President Joe Biden said that initial evidence indicated that the missile did not come from Russia. Moreover, he reportedly told G7 leaders that the object that crashed in Poland could be a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile, as reported by Reuters.