Czech officials respond to missile that killed two in Poland

Prime Minister Fiala said if Russia was behind the explosion it would be considered escalation; Interior Minister said Czechia likely faces no threat. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 16.11.2022 08:00:00 (updated on 16.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala tweeted Tuesday night that if Poland confirms that missiles have hit its territory, it will be considered an act of escalation by Russia.

Czech military and other government officials also weighed in on the explosion that claimed two lives in Eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine Tuesday afternoon.

Defense Minister Jana Černochová tweeted that the explosion would be considered an escalation even if it weren't intentional.

"We stand fully on the side of our Polish ally and Ukraine, today bombed again by the terrorist Putin. We are now evaluating the proven impact of Russian missiles on Polish territory. Whether it was a mistake or a provocation, it is another escalation of the conflict on the part of Russia and must not go unanswered," she wrote.

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan wrote in reaction to Tuesday's explosion that the Czech Republic is no likely to face any similar threat and added that Czechia stands by Ukraine and Poland.

Two people died in an explosion in Eastern Poland at a grain facility near the border with Ukraine Tuesday afternoon. Referring to an unnamed U.S. secret services high-ranking officer, the AP agency has reported that Russian missiles hit the site. However, the U.S. Department of Defense cannot confirm the information, reports Reuters.

Russia maintains that the Ukrainian-Polish border was not its target.

Fiala, however, said that, "If Poland confirms that missiles have hit its territory, this will be another escalation by Russia. We are firmly standing by our ally in the EU and NATO."

Senate foreign committee head Pavel Fischer views the incident as a hard trial for Poland and all NATO member states. "I am thinking of the Polish families who have lost their beloved. The criminal regime was shooting Russian missiles not only at civilians in Ukraine but also at the territory of NATO, that is of Poland, I condemn this crime," Fischer tweeted.

Chamber of Deputies foreign committee head Marek Ženíšek called the act an incident of aggression against a NATO member state. He said at the very least Article 4 must be activated and that the states must confer whenever the territorial integrity, political independence, and security of any of its members are threatened.

"An attack on a NATO member cannot be belittled. Article 5 of the Washington Treaty gives is binding in its possibility of defense. Russia would abuse any weakness and disunity of NATO and we cannot afford this," Ženíšek tweeted.

The Polish Foreign Ministry announced last night that a Russian-made missile landed in the village of Przewodów in the east of the country, near the border with Ukraine. Two people died in the explosion. Poland did not specify who fired the rocket. Russia has denied involvement. U.S. President Joe Biden said it was unlikely the missile was fired from Russia (but was instead the result of a Ukrainian missile interception) and pledged to support Warsaw in investigating the incident.

In a new wave of air attacks, the most extensive since the war started, according to Kyiv, Russia has fired missiles at cities and energy infrastructure all over Ukraine. More than seven million households are without power supplies, the Ukrinform Ukrainian news agency said, citing Ukrainian Presidential Office head, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

Poland does not yet have definitive evidence of who fired the rocket that landed in the east of the country on Tuesday, President Andrzej Duda said. According to Duda, Warsaw will likely activate Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty today, which means consultations in the event of a threat to one of the NATO member countries.

Chief of General Staff of the Czech Army, Karel Řehka, called for calm as officials further investigate.

"At this moment, it is certain that an explosion occurred on the territory of Poland caused by the impact of some type of ammunition. In the current situation, the most important thing is to keep calm, wait for further information and carefully evaluate the facts," the army quoted Řehka in a tweet, adding "that's exactly what we soldiers are doing right now." He said further comments are premature.

Poland has said it will step up the protection of its airspace and the investigation is still underway. Due to the incident, NATO ambassadors will meet later today. Poland is likely to activate NATO Article 4 which means consultations if there is a threat to any of the NATO member countries.

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