A mere less than 24 hours ago, before the dust had settled from the explosion and before investigators could come to any definitive conclusions after the deadly incident on the Polish border village of Przewodów, the Western public was already being harangued and forewarned to stay away from ‘conspiracy theories’ as the early mainstream headlines – pushed especially based on an anonymous US official in an Associated Press report – were fast out the gate with “Russian missiles hit Poland, killing two”.
“Article 5” – the NATO collective defense treaty which many had long worried would be the first invoked act leading to WWIII, began trending on Twitter, as Western officials issued confident statements of ‘solidarity’. Almost immediately and without evidence, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded “action” from the West over the supposed brazen aggression against a NATO member. “Hitting NATO territory with missiles… This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed,” Zelensky said his Tuesday night video address.
And then as missile crash site images widely circulated on the internet, leading even Western sources to express doubt that the projectile was launched by Russia, enter no less than the foreign minister of Ukraine, who attempted to preempt what he slammed as a developing Russia-promoted “conspiracy theory”. Like with many other aspects to this war, some of the most obvious common sense questions were quickly declared “off limits” before they could even be asked.
Warsaw then stopped just short of any talk of Article 5, but then floated Article 4 as the basis of an emergency NATO security meeting for Wednesday, which calls for “consultations” in the event a NATO country is under threat.
But what a difference a few hours, and a skeptical refusal to blindly jump on the war! bandwagon, makes. First, as we reported overnight, President Joe Biden explicitly said that based on preliminary information, it is “unlikely” that the rocket strike in Poland originated in Russia. Oops. This as based on the available emerging evidence it seemed clear the culprit was more likely an errant Ukrainian anti-air missile. “It’s unlikely in the minds of [sic] the trajectory that it was fired from Russia. But we’ll see,” Biden had said. But this admission conveniently came well after the US president seized the ‘fog of war’ moment to unveil another massive $37 billion emergency aid package for Ukraine almost simultaneous to the border incident.
Now on Wednesday, Poland and NATO officials have also done a reversal of the initial kneejerk ‘blame Russia’ reporting which momentarily sent the world into a frenzy of anxiety over the prospect of WWIII. Polish President Andrzej Duda has said the explosion that killed two people now appears to be an “unfortunate accident” and not an “intentional attack.”
What is left to say after all of this? Here are the facts..
Recall that the initial reaction out of Moscow was that either Ukraine or Poland was staging a “deliberate provocation” in so quickly hurling blame on Russia for an aggressive act. Warsaw officials had even in the hours after demanded that Russia make an apology if it was an accident.
But President Duda alongside NATO HQ is quickly reversing the entire narrative, according to more from Axios:
- Duda added that the projectile that caused the blast was “most likely” Russian-made, but officials have “no proof at the moment that it was a missile fired by the Russian side.”
- Ukraine has previously denied it was to blame for the blast and accused Moscow of a “serious escalation.” Russia also denied responsibility.
Of course, it’s always been the case that Ukraine’s anti-air missile arsenal is entirely “Russian-made” – particularly its S-300s.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a similar assessment, saying it was most likely an errant Ukrainian missile.