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Poland reserved the right to invoke Article 4 of the NATO Treaty


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In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s explosion, Poland suggested it might turn to Article 4. In the end, given the likelihood that the missile was Ukrainian, Poland refrained from doing so — but left open the possibility that it might do so later. Article 4 does not commit the alliance to any military or political action, but simply states that the alliance’s members “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.” An Article 4 discussion would, however, be a necessary first step toward a NATO decision to invoke Article 5, the treaty’s core provision, which defines NATO’s commitment to collective self-defense by treating an attack on one member as an attack on the entire alliance. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Although an invocation of Article 5 is often assumed to have military implications, the wording in the NATO treaty says only that its members will “assist” the party that has been attacked with “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.” The alliance can also respond with economic or political action. NATO was created after World War II, to serve as a Western bulwark against the Soviet Union. Poland has been a NATO member since 1999. Ukraine is not a member, but in 2008, NATO promised both Ukraine eventual membership, without specifying when. The Russian president has called the expansion of NATO menacing, and the prospect of Ukraine joining it a major threat. NATO member countries in Europe Iceland Finland Norway Russia Estonia Sweden Latvia Lithuania Belarus U.K. Poland Germany Ukraine France Romania Italy Spain Turkey Greece Note: NATO also includes Canada and the United States. The New York Times According to NATO’s description of its consultation process, a discussion triggered under Article 4 would be conducted by the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s decision-making body. Article 4 has been invoked seven times since the alliance’s founding in 1949, according to NATO. It said the most recent instance was on Feb. 24, when several of its Central European members initiated discussion about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Turkey has requested Article 4 discussions several times in recent years, including after 33 of its soldiers were killed by pro-Syrian government forces in Syria in September 2020. NATO’s secretary general issued a statement condemning the Syrian regime and its allied Russian forces for conducting “indiscriminate airstrikes,” but the alliance took no formal action. NATO has invoked Article 5 only once in its history, the day after the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001. That led to NATO’s participation in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led war and occupation there from 2003-2021. Michael Crowley is a diplomatic correspondent in the Washington bureau. He joined The Times in 2019 as a White House correspondent in the Trump administration and has filed from dozens of countries. @michaelcrowley A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 17, 2022, Section A, Page 4 of the New York edition with the headline: What It Would Mean if Poland Invoked NATO’s Article 4. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe Russia-Ukraine War Poland’s president and NATO say Ukrainian defense against a Russian barrage likely caused the deadly blast. Zelensky insists the Poland blast ‘was not our missile’ but asks for evidence that led allies to say it was. Top U.S. defense officials affirm Ukraine’s likely role in the Poland blast but hold Russia accountable. Here’s what we know about the S-300 missile, which was involved in the Poland blast. A tiny Polish border village is the focus of global attention. Signs of torture emerge in Kherson. More Ukrainians are left without utilities and internet as Russia steps up attacks. As the G20 summit ends, divisions persist over sanctions on Russia. Better Understand the Russia-Ukraine War History: Here’s what to know about Russia and Ukraine’s relationship and the causes behind the conflict. On the Ground: Russian and Ukrainian forces are using a bevy of weapons as a deadly war of attrition grinds on in eastern Ukraine. Outside Pressures: Governments, sports organizations and businesses are taking steps to punish Russia. Here are five ways in which sanctions are affecting Russia. Turkey has requested Article 4 discussions several times in recent years, including after 33 of its soldiers were killed by pro-Syrian government forces in Syria in September 2020. NATO’s secretary general issued a statement condemning the Syrian regime and its allied Russian forces for conducting “indiscriminate airstrikes,” but the alliance took no formal action. NATO has invoked Article 5 only once in its history, the day after the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001. That led to NATO’s participation in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led war and occupation there from 2003-2021.
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