U.S. on Belarusian Helicopters Incident: NATO Fifth Article Is Not Discussed Yet

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The United States addressed NATO security seriously after the incident with the violation of Polish airspace by Belarus military helicopters, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated. He said the United States “expects all countries to respect the sovereign airspace of other countries”. He added that Washington would continue to take NATO security very seriously. At the same time, the spokesman made it clear that there was no talk yet of invoking the North Atlantic Treaty’s key fifth article. “I’m not going to get ahead of any statements that we or any other NATO state might make. There is a certain process. There is a process that allows NATO countries to invoke the Article Five. We are not at that stage right now,” Miller emphasized. Asked whether any attempts had been made to contact Polish officials or discuss any of the NATO treaty articles of with them, Miller said the US was in constant contact with all NATO members. The fifth article of the NATO treaty says that an attack on one state of the bloc is an attack on all other members of the Alliance. The fourth article provides for member countries to consult among themselves whenever, in the opinion of any of them, there is a threat to the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties. On Tuesday evening, the Polish Defence Ministry confirmed the violation of Polish airspace by two helicopters from Belarus. At first, Warsaw denied the violation of airspace, but later explained that the border crossing took place near Bialowieza at a very low altitude, which made it difficult for radar systems to detect the helicopters. In response to the incident, Polish National Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak ordered to increase the number of military personnel on the border and deploy additional assets, including attack helicopters.