More likely is the potential that Poland could invoke Article 4 — a lesser-known, but more frequently invoked, part of the NATO bylaws. That would lead to a meeting of NATO members for a “consultation” about the security issue, sending a political message to the world that the alliance stands together, without the full escalation Article 5 brings.
However, invoking either Article 5 or Article 4 would necessitate getting the sign off from all 30 NATO member countries, making either measure unlikely if the missile strike was not premeditated, said Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security.
“From the early reporting that we’ve seen, which is still a bit hazy, it seems like this was probably an accident. And it may have been some errant surface-to-air missiles that Russia had fired at ground targets — so using them for an inappropriate role — that went into Poland. I don’t honestly know if Poland wants to escalate the situation that much either,” she said.
“My assumption is that the [Biden] administration is going to be looking to de-escalate, issue a stern warning, tell Russia that they need to be more careful in the future and take steps to reassure Poland and other NATO members,” she said.
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