NATO: what are article 4 and 5 and could they be implemented following the missile incident in Poland?

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The death of the two people in Poland has increased tensions in the conflict

The death of two people in the eastern Poland village of Przewodow as the result of a missile strike has led to the North Atlanttic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting to decide what it may do next. Initial reports blamed Russia for the missile strike but as details continued to emerge it soon transpired that the incident was an accident caused by Ukrainian missiles fired at Russian targets during an attack on Kyiv. US President Joe Biden said that it is “unlikely” the missiles were fired by Russian forces. Other reports suggest that the missiles could have been fired from Ukraine in an anti-missile operation.

The two dead Polish villagers are a significant incident in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is due to Poland being a NATO member state.

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The incident has led to the potential of NATO implementing one one of the articles from their 1949 North Atlantic Treaty. Two have been mentioned and would suggest different approaches to what took place in Poland.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has said his country is acting calm and will most likely invoke Article 4 rather than Article 5 later today. He said: "We do not have any conclusive evidence at the moment as to who launched this missile... it was most likely a Russian-made missile, but this is all still under investigation at the moment."

Here are the two articles of the NATO treaty that could be applied to the missile incident in Poland and what they would suggest the next course of action would be.

Article 4

Article 4 of the treaty can be implemented by a NATO member state if they feel their security is threatened in any way. This is the article Mr Duda talked about requesting NATO for.

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The article reads: “The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.”

Article 5

Article 5 is far more serious and suggests that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of that nation’s allies. Therefore if the investigation does find that Russia fired the missiles, this is an article Poland could implement.

NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty OrganisationNATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation | AFP via Getty Images

The article reads: “The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

“Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

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