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At least one stray "Russian-made" missile has killed two people in Poland in a "serious escalation" of tensions between Russia and the West.
Polish warplanes were scrambled as the country's Prime Minister convened an emergency meeting of the country's national security and defence affairs committee.
Two stray rockets – believed to have been aimed at targets in Ukraine – reportedly landed in the Polish border town of Przewodow shortly after 3.30pm on Tuesday (November 15). Two people are so far known to have died.
READ MORE: Poland could force all of NATO to declare war on Putin's Russia tonight after 'attack'
Poland has been a full NATO member since 1999, and this latest development represents "a serious escalation" of tensions between Russia and the West, a senior US intelligence official has said.
Under Article 5 of the NATO treaty an attack on one member country is considered to be an attack on all.
However, US President Joe Biden has said it is “unlikely” that a missile that killed two people in Nato-ally Poland was fired from Russia, but pledged support for Poland’s investigation into what it had called a “Russian-made” missile.
Instead, according to American officials, initial findings suggest the missile that hit Poland was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile.
One Polish firefighter, Lukasz Kucy, told Sky News: "Firefighters are on the spot – it's not clear what has happened". Polish media showed an image of a massive crater and upturned farm vehicle at the site.
Poland's Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has convened the Committee of the Council of Ministers for National Security and Defence Affairs "as a matter of urgency", government spokesman Piotr Müller confirmed, with local news sites claiming this is likely the result of the explosions.
"The most important people in the country" are attending Poland's emergency meeting, according to local news outlet Radio Zet.
There are concerns that Poland may ask other NATO members to take retaliatory action against Russia, with the Guardian stating that Polish President Andrzej Duda has informed both Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, that it is "highly likely" Poland will invoke Article 4 – which means asking to consult allies whether territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.
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The Polish President said: "All the leaders I spoke with today assured me of allied support, upholding all provisions of Article 5 inclusive. We will consider this matter together."
Polish general Mieczysław Bieniek told local news station TVN24 "I say with great confidence that these were stray missiles that fell on our territory.
"Remember that it is only about 800 to 1000 metres from the border. Just the other side of the border there is a railway junction, perhaps they were aiming for that…"
A posting on the The Russian Ministry of Defence official Telegram channel, denied the reports – calling the them "a deliberate provocation in order to escalate the situation".
"No strikes were made against targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border by Russian means of destruction," the statement said. It added that Polish reports showing missile fragments at the scene bore no resemblance to Russian weapons.
A Russian military source, speaking to state news agency Ria Novosti, claimed that Russian cruise missiles “would not have been able to reach Polish territory, but Ukrainian S-300 [surface-to-air] missile systems, functioning abnormally, could”.
While early reports identified the débris as coming from a S-300 surface-to-air missile system – which is used by both sides in the conflict – multiple Polish media reports now claim the projectile was a Russian KH-101 cruise missile.
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Polish Government spokesman Piotr Muller told reporters: "A moment ago it was decided to increase the readiness of some military units in Poland and other uniformed services”.
Brigadier General. Pat Ryder, head of the US Defence Department's Press Bureau. said the US government is “aware of the press reports alleging that two Russian missiles have struck a location inside Poland near the Ukraine border” but was unable to confirm the reports.
US Defence Department sources stressed that the US “will defend every inch of NATO territory” as the US waits for more information.
Brig. Gen. Ryder said the US is “very confident” in its force projection in Europe.
“When it comes to force protection, we always take the safety and security of our troops no matter where they’re serving very seriously,” he said.
After news of the incident reached Joe Biden in Bali where he is for the G20 Summit, the US President convened an 'emergency' G7 and NATO meeting, which included UK PM Rishi Sunak.
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On Twitter, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern about the development: "Latest news from Poland is most concerning. We are consulting closely with Poland and other Allies. Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory," the ministry tweeted.
“We’re in full solidarity with our close ally Poland,” it added.
Latvian Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks said: “Criminal Russian regime fired missiles which target not only Ukrainian civilians but also landed on NATO territory in Poland”. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda added that Vilnius is “keeping close contact” with Warsaw.
The Czech parliament has passed a motion describing the current Russian administration as "terrorist".
“We can and should do everything possible to come to Poland’s defence,” said US Senator Chris Coon told NBC News. “I hope the Russians will promptly take responsibility, identify this as a mistake, if it is in fact a mistake, provide compensation and commit to no more strikes within some buffer of the border.”
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Putin had ordered a massive wave of missile attacks on Ukraine just as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy was delivering an address to the G20 – and a week after Russian troops were forced to retreat from the southern city of Kherson.
Kyiv says today's attacks have been the heaviest bombardment in nearly nine months of war. The attacks have caused blackouts across the country and at least one person is known to have died.
Zelenskyy says that Russia launched about 85 missiles, most of which appeared to be aimed at degrading Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Ukrainian air force source put the number of missiles at close to 100.
Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy generating capabilities have so far hit 40% of the production capacity of the country’s energy installations – just as the harsh Ukrainian winter is setting in.
President Zelenskyy says around 10 million people are without electricity across multiple regions of the country due to Russian missile strikes
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The Ukrainian authorities have described Moscow’s tactic, which is designed to inflict suffering on the civilian population, as a war crime.
“It is only a matter of time before Russian terror goes further," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram. "The longer Russia feels impunity, the more threats there will be to anyone within reach of Russian missiles”.
“This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a very significant escalation. We must act.”
While Poland has not been involved in the conflict, it has welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees and Polish leaders have publicly condemned Putin's aggression.
European expert Sergej Sumlenny told the Express that this “terrorist” attack was possible due to “delays in deliveries of Western air defence systems”, as well as a ban on using Western surface-to-surface missiles to target Russian territory.
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Ukrainian government official, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, wrote on Telegram that the barrage was “another planned attack on energy infrastructure facilities”.
“Most of the hits were recorded in the centre and in the north of the country. In the capital, the situation is very difficult,” he said.
The Russian airstrikes also appear to have affected neighbouring Moldova, with the country's infrastructure minister Andrei Spînu reporting that one of the country's key power lines automatically disconnected due to the attack.
NATO Jens Stoltenberg general secretary tweeted tonight: "Spoke with President Duda about the explosion in Poland. I offered my condolences for the loss of life.
He added: "NATO is monitoring the situation and allies are closely consulting. Important that all facts are established."
The treat of a wider conflict has sent international financial markets into chaos, with the price of oil climbing 2.3% to $87.82 according to the West Texas Intermediate benchmark.
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