What is NATO Article 5 and how does it apply to missiles in Poland

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This Tuesday (15), it was reported that two missiles or rockets hit a farm in Poland, near the border with Ukraine, leaving two dead. While it is still unclear where the shells came from, it is known that they landed at the same time as a Russian missile strike in western Ukraine.

The US Department of Defense repeated after media reports that it “will defend every inch of NATO territory” pending further information. “As far as our security commitments and Article 5 are concerned, we’ve made it very clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

What is Article 5 of NATO

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Article 5 is the principle that an attack on a NATO member amounts to an attack on all NATO nations. This has been the cornerstone of the 30-state alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

The purpose of this principle is to discourage potential adversaries from attacking NATO members. Article 5 guarantees that the resources of the entire alliance can be used to protect any member nation. This is crucial for many of the smaller countries, which would be helpless without their allies. Iceland, for example, does not have a standing army.

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As the US is the largest and most powerful member of the bloc, any alliance state is effectively under its protection.

According to the NATO website, Article 5 specifically states:

“The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them, taking place in Europe or North America, will be deemed to be an attack directed against all of them, and they therefore agree that, if such an attack occurs, each of them, in the exercise of of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, shall assist the party or parties attacked, subsequently adopting, individually and in agreement with the other parties, such measures as it deems necessary, including the use of force armed force, to restore security to the North Atlantic area”.

“Any armed attack of this nature and all measures taken as a result will be immediately brought to the attention of the Security Council. These measures will cease when the Security Council has taken the necessary measures to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

During the Cold War, the main concern was the Soviet Union. But in recent years, Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Europe have gained attention.

Article 5 was already invoked on 9/11

Article 5 has only been invoked once: after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States.

However, the principle of Article 5 of NATO goes beyond attacks on national territory. The alliance has also taken collective defense measures on several occasions, including deploying Patriot missiles in 2012 on the Syrian-Turkish border and bolstering its presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

NATO allies have also joined the US in the fight in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

What constitutes an attack on a NATO member country

The language of Article 5 specifically states that an “armed attack” against a member nation is what triggers collective action.

But what constitutes an “armed attack” is up to NATO members, and Russia’s aggressive stance has already raised concerns about the country’s willingness to potentially attempt a NATO response.

For example, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia told The Washington Post in March 2022 that a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine could have consequences beyond its intended “geographical boundaries” and affect the group’s members.

“It could end up hitting Poland, Romania or the Baltic states and doing damage that would close hospitals and potentially you have American troops there. If American troops in a truck have an accident because the lights don’t work, you could get very close to Article 5,” warned Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in conversation with the newspaper.

*By Paul LeBlanc and Jeremy Herb, published by Marcello Sapio

Source: CNN Brasil

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