What would the USA do if Russia attacks Poland and what has Biden said about it?
President Biden has said that NATO's Article 5 is a "sacred obligation" and the full force of American power “will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
The possibility of the war in Ukraine spilling over into a NATO member nation got perilously closer on Sunday when a barrage of Russian missiles hit a Ukrainian military base just miles from the border with Poland. Russia has warned the US that military aid shipments to Ukraine would be considered “legitimate targets” for the Russian armed forces.
President Biden has told Vladimir Putin that the US has a "sacred obligation" to meet its Article 5 commitments, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. But he has reiterated that the US will not get involved in the hostilities inside Ukraine, with his administration dismissing the idea of a no-fly zone.
US and NATO allies fortify eastern flank of alliance
Prior to Russia invading Ukraine the US and other NATO members began deploying forces to countries on the eastern flank of the alliance. In response to the invasion, for the first time in history NATO deployed its elite response force as part of a collective-defensive mission. The Pentagon has now repositioned thousands of troops stationed abroad to other European countries and strengthened the US presence with around 12,000 service members from US bases.
The show of force and alliance unity is supposed to deter the Kremlin from targeting countries that are working to resupply Ukraine with weapons in their fight against the Russian invaders. President Biden approved sending $200 million in additional lethal aid to Ukraine from the new aid package Congress approved.
Like the $350 million he authorized after Russia invaded Ukraine, the military shipment will include anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons that have helped the Ukrainian forces slow the invading army. There is a concern though that Russia may target supplies intended for Ukraine inside NATO countries.
“The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory”
President Biden has reiterated the US’s commitment to the alliance to NATO members and Putin. “There is no doubt —no doubt that the United States and every NATO ally will meet our Article 5 commitments,” Biden said. "As I made crystal clear, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power." This position has been repeated by other high-ranking members of the Biden administration as they meet with allies.
After the missile strike on a Ukrainian military training facility just across the border from Poland where Americans had been stationed prior to the invasion, worries that Russian munitions could cross into a NATO member state were ratcheted up. Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby told Martha Raddatz on ABC "This Week" that the US and NATO has a “deconfliction system” established with Russia.
The US troops who were training the Ukrainian forces had been withdrawn prior to the Russian invasion to avoid them coming under fire and thus becoming co-combatants and war with Russia. That is currently why the US is holding off on using any direct military force, including a no-fly zone over Ukraine. “There is very little that you can see that would make sense for this war to be escalated between two nuclear powers” Kirby said.
But he also said that the US is committed to responding if Russian forces attack a NATO member state. "We take our Article 5 commitment very seriously," Kirby said. "An armed attack against one is considered an armed attack against all,” adding “we continue to flow and to move and to reposition forces and capabilities along NATO's eastern flank to make sure that we can defend every inch of NATO territory if we need to."