Russian forces have now fired missiles into Polish territory. This was almost certainly not deliberate, but rather the error of inexperienced and/or drunken Russian military personnel. (I’m not being facetious or snarky here; drunkenness is actually a serious problem in the Russian military, as it is throughout Russian society.)
The Kremlin is of course denying responsibility.
This is nothing new. The Kremlin also denied responsibility when a Soviet pilot shot down KAL Flight 007 in September 1983, killing all on board.
In 1983, the Soviets did not deny that they had shot the plane down. Rather, they claimed that they had been threatened by a civilian airliner that strayed into their territory.
Unless we are all extremely unlucky, this incident in Poland won’t result in a war between Russia and NATO. The Russians are already losing the fight in Ukraine; and the last thing they need right now is more enemies in the field.
For NATO’s part: you can be sure that the NATO high command has already gamed out this possibility. Given the incompetence of the Russian military and the geographic proximities involved, we should not be surprised that this happened. The surprise, rather, is that it took so long to happen.
Update (11/16/2022): The situation grows murkier, as Poland’s president suggests that the errant missile may have been friendly fire from Ukrainian forces.
This reduces the odds of further escalation between NATO and Russia, but it doesn’t get the Russians off the hook. Whoever fired the missile that killed two Polish civilians, its landing in Polish territory was almost certainly an accident.
Had Russia not launched a war of aggression against its neighbor earlier this year, the missile would never have been fired in the first place.