Tensions were significantly heightened in eastern Europe after a suspected Russian missile landed in Poland and killed two Polish civilians as the war in Ukraine continued into its eighth month.
A senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed the lethal missile strike on Tuesday on the NATO ally.
The strike was reported in the city of Przewodów, on the border with Ukraine.
The Russian defense ministry issued a statement denying responsibility for the incident and calling it a “deliberate provocation” in order to escalate hostilities in the region.
President Joe Biden said in a tweet from his official social media account that he had met with the Polish president to discuss the incident.
“I spoke with President Andrzej Duda of Poland to express my deep condolences for the loss of life in Eastern Poland and offer our full support for Poland’s investigation of the explosion,” Biden tweeted. “We will remain in close touch to determine appropriate next steps as it proceeds.”
When he was asked by reporters if he could say what he knew about the explosion, however, he simply responded, “No.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by issuing a forceful statement by video.
“Hitting NATO territory with missiles,” he said. “This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed.”
Poland convened an emergency national security meeting leading to some concern over whether the missile attack would trigger Article 5 of the NATO charter, which says an attack on one member is an attack on all members.
Ukraine celebrated the retreat of Russian troops from the key city of Kherson in the last few days before the missile explosion. Some suspected the missile attack could be retaliation for the retreat.
Poland and other states bordering Russia have been on alert since the start of the Ukraine invasion. Putin has openly warned many of the former Soviet states that they historically belong to Russia, and those states have responded by significantly increasing their defensive war capabilities.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tweeted about the incident in Poland.
“Concerning news from Poland tonight on at least two explosions. Keeping a close contact with our Polish friends. Lithuania stands in strong solidarity with Poland,” Nauseda wrote.
“Every inch of NATO territory must be defended!” he added.
Nauseda went on to refer to Russia as a “terrorist regime” in a Facebook post.
Here’s more about the alarming incident in Poland:
Emergency NATO meeting called after missiles land in Poland