The Polish government convened an emergency meeting on security and defense on Tuesday and agreed to increase its military preparedness. This has been said by government spokesman Piotr Müllerafter a explosion killed two people near the border with Ukraine.
It was not clear what caused the explosion near the southeastern town of Hrubieszów, Müller said after the emergency meeting was called.
“It has just been decided to increase the preparedness of some military units in Poland and other uniformed services,” he told reporters.
Unconfirmed news reports that the blasts were caused by Russian missiles hitting a town a few miles from Ukraine — either intentionally or accidentally — raised fears of an escalation in President Vladimir Putin’s war.
“We have seen these reports from Poland and are working with the Polish government to gather more information,” the National Security Council spokesman said in a statement. “We cannot confirm the reports or details at this time. We will determine what happened and what the appropriate next steps would be.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden discussed the unfolding crisis with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda.
Duda then spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who expressed his support for one of his country’s staunchest allies.
All of Europe and the world must be fully protected against terrorist Russia The Ukrainian president tweeted.
Russia pushed back the allegations shortly after the reports emerged.
“The statements made by the Polish media and officials about the alleged fall of ‘Russian’ missiles in the area of the Przewodow settlement is a deliberate provocation to escalate the situation,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement on Telegram. , referring to the village widely reported to have been affected.
The increasingly urgent situation comes as Russia launched an intense wave of airstrikes on cities across Ukraine on Tuesday, forcing widespread blackouts and hitting residential buildings in the capital Kyiv.
The barrage targeted key cities from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the northeast, crushing energy infrastructure and knocking out power to vast areas in one of the largest coordinated attacks of the war.
“It is only a matter of time before the Russian terror continues. The longer Russia feels impunity, the more threats there will be to anyone within range of Russian missiles,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. “This is a Russian missile strike on collective security! This is a very significant escalation. We must act.’
The prospect of Russian missiles potentially hitting Poland, a member of NATO, raised fears that the war in Ukraine could escalate sharply.
“We can and must do everything possible to defend Poland,” U.S. Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., told NBC News. “I hope the Russians take responsibility quickly, identify this as a mistake, if indeed it is a mistake, offer compensation and commit not to attack again within some buffer of the border.”
Poland theoretically falls under NATO’s Article 5 – a principle that suggests that all allies, including the US, would come to the aid of any member under attack.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that he was “expressing my condolences for the loss of life” to the Polish leadership and that NATO is “monitoring the situation and is closely consulting with allies”.
Some alliance members also expressed their support for Poland and said they were in contact with the country’s leaders.
Gitanas Nauseda, the president of Lithuania, which borders Poland, tweeted that “every inch of NATO territory must be defended!”
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala responded on Twitter that “if Poland confirms that the missiles also hit its territory, it will be a further escalation by Russia. We firmly stand with our EU and NATO ally.”
Fellow NATO member Estonia, which was part of the Soviet Union for decades and has warned against Russian expansionism in recent years, called the news “deeply concerning.”
“We are in close consultation with Poland and other allies. Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory,” the country’s foreign minister said via Twitter. “We are in full solidarity with our closest ally Poland.”
Sahil Kapur, Kelly O’Donnell, Reuters and Ewa Galica contributed.