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Damages from the hits in Przewodów, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Missiles in Poland, Chinese anger at zero-COVID

Who fired those missiles into Poland?

Explosions apparently caused by rockets or missiles killed two people Tuesday in the Polish town of Przewodów, several miles from the Ukrainian border. The incident occurred amid a barrage of Russian missile attacks on critical infrastructure across Ukraine. Poland went on heightened military readiness as some Polish officials suggested the projectiles might be Russian. An investigation is underway.

But the plot thickened early Wednesday when US President Joe Biden said at an emergency meeting on the subject in Bali, where he’s attending the G-20, that preliminary info suggests it’s “unlikely” the weapons were fired "from Russia." This raises the prospect that malfunctioning Ukrainian air defenses could have been responsible, or that the missiles could have been fired from nearby Belarus, which has supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia, for its part, says it has nothing to do with the incident at all.

The big questions are: Was it in fact a Russian missile or not? If so, is there any evidence the attack was deliberate, as some Ukrainian officials have friskily suggested, or merely a mistake in the fog of war?

The implications are huge — Poland is a NATO member, so any deliberate attack by Russia would raise the prospect of invoking the alliance’s Article 5 collective defense mechanism, in which all members go on a war footing to respond. That, of course, could set in motion an escalation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

In the meantime, an Article 4 response is possible: a much mellower undertaking in which the alliance convenes a formal discussion on the incident but doesn’t take military action.

But a big question remains: Even if this incident was a Ukrainian own goal or a Russian mistake, what would NATO’s response be if Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to tweak the alliance with a bite along the Polish border?

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North Korean soldiers on a vehicle carrying rockets during a military parade in Pyongyang.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

What We’re Watching: Russia buys North Korean arms, EU tilts at windfalls, Indonesians take to the streets

Russia scrambles for weapons

Newly declassified US intelligence claims that Russia is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea. If true, this is yet more evidence that a Russian military leadership expecting a quick victory in Ukraine following its Feb. 24 invasion has badly miscalculated both Russia’s capabilities and the intensity and effectiveness of Ukrainian military resistance. The weaponry North Korea is providing is not the high-tech, precision-guided munitions that US and European export controls are designed to prevent Russia from producing. These are basic weapons that Russia appears unable to produce in needed quantities. US intelligence also suggests that a significant number of drones Russia has been forced to purchase from Iran have proven defective. These revelations underscore two important problems for Russia. First, Western sanctions are badly disrupting Russian supply lines, making it impossible for the Russian arms industry to produce the weapons that Russia would need to win the war in Ukraine. Second, while China remains happy to buy Russian oil, it has so far proven unwilling to defy US warnings not to violate weapons and parts sanctions against Moscow.

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Activists take part in a protest against China's treatment towards the ethnic Uyghur people and calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, at a park Jakarta, Indonesia, January 4, 2022.

REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

What We’re Watching: Xinjiang at the Beijing Olympics, Boris in deep(er) trouble, Indonesia’s new capital

Selling Xinjiang. Xi Jinping — a man well known for both his grand vision of China’s future, and for his willingness to get large numbers of people to do things they might not otherwise do — said in 2018 that he wanted 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports. The Chinese government announced this week that this goal has been met in honor of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, which open in China’s capital on February 4. Multinational companies are consistently impressed by the commercial opportunities created when 300 million people decide to try new things. But it’s an inconvenient truth that most of China’s most abundant snow and best ski slopes are found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, a place where Western governments and human rights organizations have accused Beijing of imprisoning more than one million minority Uyghurs in re-education camps. In these prisons, critics say inmates have experienced “torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment.” As China’s government opens new profit opportunities in Xinjiang, multinational corporations will face pressure from multiple directions not to invest there.

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Jokowi may announce Cabinet reshuffle this week

December 21, 2020 5:00 AM

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to announce as early as this week a much-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle to replace underperforming ministers, including two ministers recently arrested for corruption, and maybe Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto.

Indonesian President Joko may reshuffle Cabinet as early as next week: Sources

December 19, 2020 4:45 PM

He is expected to replace underperforming ministers, including Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto and two ministers recently arrested for corruption.

Jokowi's son-in-law, new Medan mayor, is no stranger to the limelight

December 14, 2020 5:00 AM

Smart, humorous and firm. These traits stand out for people who have come to know Mr Bobby Nasution.

Solo residents hope new millennial mayor will emulate ways of his father Jokowi

December 14, 2020 5:00 AM

Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka is set to assume the post, like his father once did, after he trounced a tailor in the Dec 9 regional elections.

Solo residents hope for double dose of good works for city

December 14, 2020 5:00 AM

The laid-back Central Java city of Solo was lit up with cheer after unofficial tallies showed the son of Indonesian President Joko Widodo would likely become its mayor.

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