The "bogeyman" of Article 5 of the Atlantic Treaty

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

According to preliminary investigations, the missiles that caused two victims in Poland yesterday derive from a "technical error": Turkish president Erdoğan said so in Bali. As he explained in a press conference on the sidelines of the G20, Erdoğan received this indication from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. To know the origin of the missiles (ie whether they were launched deliberately by the Russians or it is a mistake), he added, we will have to wait for a more in-depth examination, but (according to Erdoğan) they are not Russian-made. "I have to respect the statement made by Russia. This incident has nothing to do with them", Erdogan noted.

Last night, Mariusz Gierszewski, a reporter for Poland's Radio Zet, spoke of "two Russian missiles" that fell on Polish soil in a village 10 kilometers from the border, Przewodow. Confirmation came soon after from a senior US intelligence official quoted by the AP. Then the local firefighters found the two people who died following the explosions that hit a site where cereals were dried.

As the hours went by, Gierszewski, quoting the services in Warsaw, hypothesized that it would not have been a launch error by the Russians but the remains of a missile shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft.

The other hypothesis (which seems to be gaining momentum!) is that it was precisely a missile from the defense of Kiev that fell in Poland: debris is compatible with the S-300 long-range surface-to-air system (photo).

Polish President Duda, speaking with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, essentially asked to activate Article 4 of the Alliance, which provides that "the parties shall consult whenever, in the opinion of either of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of one is threatened".

Someone has even begun to talk about activating article 5 of the Treaty, ie the political heart of the Alliance which would represent the defensive guarantee against attacks by third parties on the member states.

But what does the aforementioned article say?

“The parties agree (the member states of the Alliance, Ed.) that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be regarded as a direct attack against all of the parties, and accordingly agree that should such attack occur, each of them will be exercising its right of self-defense individual or collective recognized by the art. 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, shall assist the party or parties so attacked by undertaking immediately, individually or jointly with the other parties so attacked, the action it deems necessary, including the use of armed forces, to restore and maintain security in the North Atlantic area".

Therefore, quite peculiar, and not entirely transparent, are the commitments that the allies assume in favor of the attacked state. Indeed, the claim that attacking one would have been considered attacking all represents a petition principles, ineffective, if the countermeasures are not precisely indicated. Precisely the critical point is represented by the lack of precision with which the countermeasures are indicated.

From what is contained in article 5, therefore, the nature of the actions to be undertaken is left to the individual member states of the Alliance, which undertake "such action as he deems necessary, including the use of armed forces". This introduces a twofold distinction: the reaction is not necessarily of a military nature and in any case, its nature is left to the "judgment" of the interested parties.

It is essentially a guarantee live and not easy to implement.

Paradoxically, if it should be confirmed that the missiles dropped in Poland are actually Ukrainian S-300s, Article 5 would have to be applied against Kiev, as an aggressor state of a member country of the Atlantic Alliance.

Photo: NATO / web

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