Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

As the investigation continues into how two Poles died in an explosion near their country’s border with Ukraine on Tuesday, Poland’s ambassador to Canada is calling on the international community to consider deepening its support for countries closest to war.

The belief in Poland and its NATO military allies is that the apparent missile attack “was not intentional,” says Witold Dzielski, who directed international policy for the Polish president before coming to Ottawa earlier this year.

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The leading theory is that the cause was a stray Ukrainian defense missile that hit amid a barrage of missile attacks from Russia, although Ukraine’s president disputed that claim.

Still, Dzielski said, that event “wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine.”

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The consequences of the war were difficult for Poland, which, he said, accepted about seven million refugees, many of whom are still in the country. Poland has spent the equivalent of $15 billion, Dzielski said, on humanitarian and military support.

Click to play video: 'Russia accuses Ukraine of deliberately involving NATO in missile attack on Poland during UN Security Council meeting'

Russia accuses Ukraine of deliberately involving NATO in a missile attack on Poland during a UN Security Council meeting

While Canada’s support for Ukraine so far is “very much appreciated,” he said, Poland hopes its allies will consider supporting neighboring countries at risk of aid.

“We are lobbying hard, from the very beginning, for everyone to provide support. And at the same time we are putting ourselves at risk… Poland believes that this is the right thing to do,” he said.

“This is something that Poland and the countries of our region were not ready for. And it produces very serious budgetary risks. Therefore, it is worth considering supporting these countries as well.”

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The deaths of Polish citizens near the Ukrainian border on Tuesday brought into stark relief the danger of being in close proximity to war. While the international community reacted in shock and prepared for a potential escalation of the conflict, the Polish authorities overreacted, Dzielski explained.

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Immediately, he said, individual military units were put on the highest alert and an investigation began. President Andrzej Duda was on the phone with partners around the world, and talks continued downstream, at the ministerial level and below.

That includes a call between Duda and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, Dzielski said. While he said he could not provide details, he said the general message from the talks was that “Canada stands with Poland” and that “Canadians are ready to provide the necessary support.”

Click to play video: 'Canada can be 'leader' in supplying Ukraine with armored vehicles: Anand'

Canada can be a ‘leader’ in supplying Ukraine with armored vehicles: Anand

He said that based on this and other calls by the leaders, there is broad agreement that “eventual decisions must be made in a smart way”, but that “this is a situation that is taking place on the territory of NATO and if it was something intentional, then it would require appropriate reaction.”

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If the facts lead to the conclusion that there was intent behind the move, Dzielski affirmatively said that Article 4 of NATO’s operating agreement, which opens consultations when a member state feels its security is threatened, would be “an appropriate way to move forward” _ no Article 5, which stipulates that an act of war against one member state is an attack on all of them.

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Articles 4 and 5 of NATO triggered amid explosions in Poland. What are they?

For Dzielski himself, an “exceptionally busy” 24 hours followed the first reports of the explosion _ not least because a gala celebration of the 80th anniversary of Polish-Canadian relations was scheduled for the same night in Ottawa.

The guest list included two delegations from Poland, several Canadian MPs and Minister Helena Jaczek, responsible for the Federal Agency for Economic Development of Southern Ontario, whose father is Polish.

It was a different mood than Dzielski expected.

“Instead of talking about major developments in economic relations and cooperation at the political and military level and so on, a large part of the conversation during and after the gala ceremony was devoted to the situation in Poland,” he said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press