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Russian missiles struck NATO ally Poland

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This photograph taken on October 7, 2022 shows a Russian rocket sticks out a ground near the village of Ukrainka in a part of Southern Ukraine.
This photograph taken on October 7, 2022 shows a Russian rocket sticks out a ground near the village of Ukrainka in a part of Southern Ukraine.
Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images
  • Two people were reportedly killed after Russian missiles landed in an eastern Polish village.
  • Poland is a member of NATO, which operates under the principle of collective defense.
  • It’s not clear how Poland or NATO will respond.
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⚠️ MEDIA FILE ON IT’S WAY ⚠️

Two people were killed after Russian missiles landed in an eastern Polish village on Tuesday, a US intelligence official told the Associated Press. The incident seemingly marks the first time that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has spilled across Ukraine’s borders and into the territory of a NATO member.

The missiles landed in the village of Przewodów, which is located in eastern Poland a short distance from Ukraine’s western border, and reportedly came amid a barrage of over 90 Russian missiles that targeted Ukraine’s infrastructure. 

A Polish government official said the country’s prime minister called an emergency defense committee meeting. Russia denied reports that its weapons landed in Poland, with its state-run TASSnews agency calling reports they had “a deliberate provocation.”

A spokesperson for Poland’s Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement that a “Russian-made missile fell” into the region and that an ambassador for the Russian Federation has been asked to provide an immediate explanation.

The damage shifts attention onto the NATO alliance, which has repeatedly warned it will defend the territory of its allies from Russia. Poland is a member of the NATO, which operates under the principle of collective defense — enshrined in Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty. Under this agreement, an attack against one NATO country is considered an attack against the entire military alliance. But Article 5 has only been invoked once in NATO’s history, following the terror attacks against the US on September 11, 2001. 

Article 5 states that NATO members will assist the attacked party or parties 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.”

It’s unclear what caused the Russian projectiles to land in Poland, which could have a major bearing on how the alliance reacts. 

The US and its Western allies have warned Russia repeatedly that an attack on NATO territory would trigger a strong response.

“We have a sacred obligation under Article 5 to defend each and every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective power,” President Joe Biden said in March. 

Adrienne Watson, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, said Tuesday afternoon that “we’ve seen these reports out of Poland and are working with the Polish government to gather more information. We cannot confirm the reports or any of the details at this time. We will determine what happened and what the appropriate next steps would be.”

Echoing these comments, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said during a press briefingthat the US is “aware of the press reports alleging that two Russian missiles have struck a location inside Poland near the Ukraine border. I can tell you that we don’t have any information at this time to corroborate those reports and are looking into this further.” 

Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters he did not think the apparent strike was intentional.

“I have to believe that it was a mistake by Russia,” he said, per The Washington Post’s Liz Goodwin. “And I think if it is, Russia should come out very quickly and say that.”

Poland’s foreign affairs ministry and NATO did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider. The Russian government also did not respond to an inquiry.

The incident immediately triggered remarks from top officials in neighboring countries. 

“My condolences to our Polish brothers in arms. Criminal Russian regime fired missiles which target not only Ukrainian civilians but also landed on NATO territory in Poland. Latvia fully stands with Polish friends and condemns this crime,” Latvia’s defense minister said on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Hungarian government said that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would also convene a meeting of the country’s defense council in response to “the missile hitting territory of Poland.”

The incident comes as Russia fired a barrage of missiles across Ukraine on Tuesday, leaving half the population of Kyiv without power. 

Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.



Reactions from r/worldnews on Reddit:

Mod: ‘dieyoufool3’

Pinning this comment from the Live thread to assuage people’s worry around article 5 being invoked in light of the 2 killed in the Polish border town.

This is NOT the start of WW3, folks. Calm. However, Poland has a lot of options to make things incredibly unpleasant for Russia without kicking off WW3.

The situation is still developing and I will update this comment as confirmed information comes in.

The current most credible theory is:

US official have told POLITICO it was likely caused by a missile strike or errant missile, not remnants of a missile Ukrainian armed forces shot down. Source

Polish Foreign Ministry confirm a Russian-made rocket fell on the territory. Source

Russia missiles did hit electrical infrastructure near Kovel, Ukraine, 50kms (31 miles) from the Polish border. Source

Ukraine confirmed earlier today 73 missiles (out of ~100) and 11 drones were shot down. Source

A quick refresh on NATO bylaws:

Article 5: An attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members.

Article 4: 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.

Here’s everything you wanted to know about Article Four of the North Atlantic Treaty but were afraid to ask.



Update 19:00 GMT:

Poland holds urgent meeting amid reports of stray Russian missile strike.


Update 19:32 GMT:

Pentagon looking into Poland missile strike reports.

The Department of Defense Press Secretary, Brig Gen Patrick S Ryder, has said:

“We are aware of the press reporting on this. We have no information at this time to corroborate those reports but again, are taking them seriously and looking into them. And so I will make sure that we provide you with any updates as soon as we have them.”

He continues: “We’re looking into these reports – don’t have any information to corroborate them at this time. So I don’t want to speculate or get into hypotheticals. When it comes to our security commitments and Article 5, we’ve been crystal-clear that we will defend every inch of Nato territory.”


Update 19:59 GTM:

Lithuania PM” “Concerning news. Every inch of NATO territory needs to be defended.”


Update 20:07 GMT:

Russia denies any involvement in ‘missile strike on Poland’.

Russia hasdeniedstatements from Polish media outlets and officials that Russian missiles fell on the Polish village of Przewodó near the Ukrainian border.

The Russian ministry of defence posted on its Telegram, calling the reports “a deliberate provocation in order to escalate the situation.”


Update 20:20 GMT:

NATO Statement: “We are looking into these reports and coordinating with our ally Poland.”


Update 21:21 GMT:

Poland ‘raises military readiness’…

Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller has confirmed that there was an explosion that killed two Polish citizens, Reuters news agency reports

Poland is raising the readiness of its military units, he says, and “verifying if we need to activate Nato Article Four.”

That article says: “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.”


Update 21:33 GMT:

NATO Secretary General’s Tweet: “Spoke with President Duda about the explosion in Poland. I offered my condolences for the loss of life. NATO is monitoring the situation and Allies are closely consulting. Important that all facts are established.”


Update 21:40 GMT:

US President Biden has been briefed and is speaking to Polish President Andrze Duda, officials say.

Ukraine Attacks Russia Along Northern Front, Swiftly Making Gains

Sweeping south from positions in the Kharkiv region in Ukraine’s northeast, Ukrainian forces have made their largest gains since routing Russia from Kyiv in April.

Ukrainian fighters in Kharkiv on Friday. President Volodymyr Zelensky said his military had captured large chunks of occupied territory in the north.
Ukrainian fighters in Kharkiv on Friday. President Volodymyr Zelensky said his military had captured large chunks of occupied territory in the north.
Juan Barreto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


KYIV, Ukraine— Ukrainian forces have scored the most significant battlefield gains since they routed Russia from the area around Kyiv in April by reclaiming territory in the northeast, according to Ukrainian officials, Western analysts and battlefield imagery.

In his overnight address to the nation Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Ukrainian military had captured scores of villages and large chunks of Russian-occupied territory across Ukraine since the offensive began. “In total, more than a thousand square kilometers of the territory of Ukraine have been liberated since the beginning of September,” he said.

On Friday the Ukrainian military appeared to be moving rapidly to cut off the city of Izium, a critical logistical hub for Russian military operations.
The exact positions of Ukrainian forces in the area around Izium could not be independently established. But satellite data, independent military analysts and photos and videos of Ukrainian forces indicated that they had moved quickly toward Kupiansk, another logistical hub just north of Izium.

The new offensive in the north appears to have caught the Russian forces off guard. On Friday, its Defense Ministry said on Telegram that it was moving troops to reinforce the Kharkiv region, without specifying their numbers or specific locations.

Ukraine’s advances in the northeast sent a shock wave through Kremlin-friendly military bloggers, pro-war cheerleaders who typically call for more aggressive action.

Maps: Tracking the Russian invasion of the Ukraine

“We need to be honest, the Ukrainian command has outplayed us here,” said Yury Podolyaka, a Ukrainian pro-Kremlin blogger with more than 2.2 million followers on Telegram. He warned that if the Russian forces failed to “stop the Ukrainian breakthrough” in the coming days “this will be the most serious combat defeat” for Moscow.

Ukrainian and Western officials cautioned that the offensive operations were in their early days, that the situation was fluid and that the gains were far from secure. Not all of the claims of advances by Ukraine could be independently verified, and much about the state of the fighting in both the east and the south of Ukraine is shrouded in uncertainty as the government in Kyiv enforces a media blackout, restricting journalists’ access to the front.

For months, Ukraine’s leaders declared loudly and often their intention to launch a counteroffensive in the south, around the port city of Kherson. And they proceeded to batter Russian supply lines, ammunition depots and command centers in the region with precision rockets, while massing troops and orchestrating covert attacks on military bases and Russian collaborators far behind enemy lines.

Ukrainian soldiers near the Kherson front this week. Ukraine’s leaders had long declared their intentions to retake Kherson, but said little about the north.
Ukrainian soldiers near the Kherson front this week. Ukraine’s leaders had long declared their intentions to retake Kherson, but said little about the north.
Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Ukrainian soldiers near the Kherson front this week. Ukraine’s leaders had long declared their intentions to retake Kherson, but said little about the north. Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times
But they said virtually nothing about the northeast, until this week.

Accounts from witnesses, the local Ukrainian authorities, Russian proxy officials, geolocated video on social media and satellite footage offered a window into the Ukrainian campaign.

On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said their troops had pushed through the town of Balakliya, less than 30 miles from the city of Izium, which lies close to the Donbas, the contested area of eastern Ukraine that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has vowed to seize. President Zelensky released video of soldiers raising Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag above the town’s administrative building, and other officials posted videos, not all immediately authenticated, of locals coming out to greet the soldiers.

Ukrainian soldiers on Friday posted photos that purported to be in the vicinity of Kupiansk, which has served as the capital of the Russian occupation in the region. The Kremlin-installed head of the city administration, Vitaly Ganchev, urged women and children to evacuate as Ukrainian forces approached.

Mr. Ganchev said the city is under “constant rocket attacks from the armed forces of Ukraine,” according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency.

In response to the growing threats in the south, the Russian military redeployed thousands of troops from the Donbas, apparently thinning their defenses in the north and providing an opening for the Ukrainians.

Russia’s seeming inability to secure a key flank near Izium also highlighted its challenge in defending occupied territory along front lines that stretch 1,500 miles from northeastern Ukraine to the Black Sea coast in the south. And the battlefield setbacks seemed to underscore the manpower issues plaguing the Russian army, which the United States estimates has suffered at least 80,000 wounded and killed since the invasion began in late February.

A Russian strike in the Kherson region this month.
A Russian strike in the Kherson region this month.
Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

On Friday, some of Russia’s military bloggers voiced dismay over the inability of Russian commanders to prepare stout defenses. Others have demanded an explanation from the Russian military command or other authorities.

Maksim Fomin called on law enforcement to figure out why Russian forces were unprepared for the Ukrainian offensive. “The situation is very diffilcult,” he said. “Let’s exhale and say that we have been defeated.”

Yevgeny Poddubny, a Russian state TV reporter, posted a video of Russian transport helicopters that he said were transferring Russian troops to the Kupiansk and Izium areas, citing Russian defense officials.

Some of the pro-Kremlin bloggers have warned that the loss of large swaths of occupied lands in Ukraine would undermine the “Russia is here forever” message that the occupying authorities have been preaching in order to sway locals to support them.

Occupation forces outside Donetsk this month.Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
While the Ukrainian gains in the north were capturing most of the attention Friday, the southern counteroffensive also made gains, with Ukraine’s Security Service releasing photos of what it said was the city of Vysokopillia, in the Kherson region. That claim could not be independently verified.
Last week, Ukrainian forces reported that they had broken through the first line of Russian defenses in multiple locations in the Kherson region, where they remain engaged in fierce battles to drive the Russians back from well-fortified positions.

Occupation forces outside Donetsk this month.
Occupation forces outside Donetsk this month.
Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at C.N.A., a research institute in Arlington, Va., said the campaign in the south did not appear to be a diversion to draw Russian forces.

“These appear to be interrelated offensives,” he said on Twitter on Thursday. “Kherson likely intended as a more deliberate, sequenced advance. Kharkiv to take advantage of favorable conditions.”
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that Ukraine has made tangible gains in recent days, but he sought to temper expectations for what will probably continue to prove a bloody campaign.

“There is fighting — both offense and defense — all the way from Kharkiv all the way down to Kherson,” he said at a news conference in Germany.
Still, General Milley said the Ukrainians were making efficient use of newly acquired weapons systems to set the stage for their offensive. The American-made HIMARS missile system, he said, has been used to strike more than 400 targets. And it is just one of a number of advanced weapons systems now being deployed by the Ukrainians.
But he emphasized that Russia, although its supply lines were strained and its manpower troubles far from resolved, retained significant advantages in the war.

“The war is not over,” he said. “Russia’s a big country. They have very serious ambitions with respect to Ukraine.”

Authors:Marc Santora reported from Kyiv, Ukraine, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Marco Hernandez from New York. Anna Lukinova contributed reporting from Kyiv, and Alan Yuhas from New York.

Source:https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/09/world/aeurope/ukraine-russia-kharkiv.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare
Published on:9 September 2022

Ukrainian Gun Battle Caught on Camera

@fomtooley

Russians laugh at nuking New York City

Russia’s ‘Vacuum Bombs’ Could Unleash Hell on Ukrainian Civilians, and Amount to a War Crime

The TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is meant to take on fortified enemy positions. Used against civilians, it would almost certainly amount to a war crime.

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Russian TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower System
  • One of Russia’s most deadly and controversial land weapons is the TOS-1A heavy flamethrower.
  • It uses rockets with thermobaric weapons to destroy entrenched enemy troops.
  • Used in Ukraine’s cities, the weapons would do massive damage to military and civilian targets alike, including ordinary people taking shelter from the fighting.

As Russia’s troops grow increasingly bogged down in their invasion of Ukraine, observers are concerned the Russian military could unleash one of its most devastating non-nuclear weapons in civilian areas: the TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system. Originally designed to destroy fortified NATO targets, the TOS-1A is designed to create shattering waves of searing heat and overpressure, killing enemy troops inside bunkers and other reinforced targets.

The Russian Ground Forces have, until Monday, refrained from using heavy artillery in Ukraine’s urban areas. This has been an impediment to typical Russian combat operations, as Moscow’s military doctrine usually prescribes a liberal amount of artillery to batter the enemy before a ground assault. Although there have been numerous sightings of heavy Russian artillery pieces rolling into Ukraine—and reports that Moscow has already used thermobaric weapons against civilians—there have been no official confirmations yet.

All of that may be about to change. Artillery bombardments of Ukrainian cities and towns are becoming increasingly common, with evidence of BM-30 Smerch 300-millimeter rockets, Grad-P 122-millimeter rockets, and other salvo-fired rocket systems in active use. The worst of all, however, is the TOS-1A. As the weapon’s state-owned exporter states in its marketing materials: “I will create hell for the enemy.” No lie detected.

The TOS-1A is a weapon without equivalents in Western armies. TOS-1A and weapons like it are called “thermobaric” due to their use of extreme heat and pressure to incapacitate or kill. The Soviet Union first developed the TOS-1A in the 1970s as a weapon to fulfill the role of a flamethrower, destroying enemy troops in bunkers. At the time, most armies were shifting away from the traditional role of a flame-spurting flamethrower, but there was still a need for a weapon that could somehow reach through the narrow firing ports of a bunker or fighting position to neutralize the troops inside.

A RUSSIAN GROUND FORCES T-90M AND TOS-1A TRAVEL DOWN TVERSKAYA STREET AFTER A VICTORY DAY MILITARY PARADE MARKING THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORY IN WORLD WAR I, JUNE 2020...
A RUSSIAN GROUND FORCES T-90M AND TOS-1A TRAVEL DOWN TVERSKAYA STREET AFTER A VICTORY DAY MILITARY PARADE MARKING THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VICTORY IN WORLD WAR I, JUNE 2020…

The original vehicle, TOS-1, was designed to carry 30 rockets with a 220-millimeter diameter. Each rocket was packed with inert—but flammable—metal particles, dispersed in a cloud-like pattern at the target. Ideally, the airborne metallic particles filter into hard-to-reach places through firing ports in a bunker, crew hatches in armored vehicles, and cave entrances. The rocket then detonates the cloud, creating a deadly fireball.

The explosion also has a powerful secondary effect: the generation of powerful positive, then negative, pressure waves. The quick succession of positive and negative pressure waves is why some call thermobaric weapons “vacuum bombs.” The pressure differential has a devastating effect on buildings, structures, and the human body—particularly the lungs. The U.S. Air Force’s Mother of All Bombs (MOAB), the world’s largest conventional bomb, similarly kills through overpressure, and in 2017 was dropped on an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan.

Russian servicemen load 200mm thermobaric warheads onto a TOS-1A vehicle
RUSSIAN SERVICEMEN LOAD 200-MILLIMETER THERMOBARIC WARHEADS ONTO A TOS-1A VEHICLE..

The modern version of TOS-1 is TOS-1A, also known as Solntsepek (Sun). The weapon still uses 220-millimeter rockets, but only carries 24 at a time. According to Rosoboronexport, the state company that markets and coordinates international arms sales, TOS-1A can launch its rockets just 90 seconds after coming to a full stop. It can fire all 24 rockets in six seconds, and a single vehicle can savage 40,000 square meters, the equivalent of almost ten acres. In addition to the Russian Ground Forces, armies in Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria also operate TOS-1As.

Here’s a video that Russia’s Ministry of Defense uploaded to YouTube in 2019, showing the loading and firing of TOS-1As during an exercise:

Loading and Firing the TOS-1A

TOS-1A’s effects against soldiers are horrifying enough, but against civilians it has the potential for mass slaughter. The dangers to unprotected civilians are obvious, but it can also damage (or even collapse) non-military buildings, killing or injuring those taking shelter inside.

Two human rights organizations—London’s Amnesty International and New York City’s Human Rights Watch—have both claimed that Russia “appeared to have used widely banned cluster munitions, with Amnesty accusing them of attacking a preschool in northeastern Ukraine while civilians took shelter inside,” according to a February 28 report from Reuters, but those claims have not yet been verified.

TOS-1A HEAVY FLAMETHROWERS TEST FIRING IN NORTH OSSETIA, RUSSIA, 2019. A SINGLE VEHICLE CAN DEVASTATE TEN SQUARE ACRES OF LAND.
TOS-1A HEAVY FLAMETHROWERS TEST FIRING IN NORTH OSSETIA, RUSSIA, 2019. A SINGLE VEHICLE CAN DEVASTATE TEN SQUARE ACRES OF LAND..

TOS-1A will devastate civilian populations in Ukraine if Russia uses it against them. Already, Russian rockets are raining down in urban areas in Kharkiv, a city in the eastern part of the country that has managed to hold out against Russian forces despite overwhelming odds. If Putin grows desperate, he might order his military to deploy TOS-1A and similar rocket systems as terror weapons in an attempt to break Ukraine’s morale.

While such actions might have their intended effect, it would also broadly be considered a war crime, and land Putin and his administration in even deeper international trouble than it’s in now.


BY KYLE MIZOKAMI MAR 1, 2022