Brussels/Krakow, Poland, Nov 16 (EFE).- A missile that landed in Poland, killing two, was “likely” launched by Ukrainian armed forces at incoming Russian fire before veering off course, Nato and Polish officials said Wednesday.
Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg told a Brussels press conference that the projectile on Tuesday night was most likely a Ukrainian air defense missile but said the blame lay with Russia.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks,” he said.
“But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
The Norwegian politician said the explosion occurred as Russia launched a massive wave of strikes across Ukraine.
“An investigation into this incident is ongoing, and we need to await its outcome, but we have no indication that this was a result of a deliberate attack and we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against Nato.”
THE POLISH RESPONSE
His remarks came shortly after Polish president Andrej Duda and prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki offered the same conclusion at a press conference in Warsaw following an emergency security meeting scrambled after the projectile that was initially reported to be fired by Russia struck the Polish village of Przewodów, on the border with Ukraine, killing two Polish citizens.
Duda said that the projectile was probably a Soviet-era S-300 missile, a ground to air launch system used by both the Ukrainian and Russian armies.
“Yesterday we witnessed a massive attack against Ukraine. All Ukrainian territory was bombed, especially border areas,” he told a press conference.
“Ukraine was defending itself against the attack, therefore all the blame for the incident is Russia’s,” he added.
In light of the conclusions, Morawiecki said Warsaw would not seek to invoke Nato’s Article 4, which triggers consultations when a member’s territory, political independence or security is deemed to be under threat.
“There is no indication that yesterday’s event was an attack on Polish territory. We were dealing most probably with an unfortunate event, as a result of which Polish citizens died,” Morawiecki said.
“There are many indications that it was an air defense missile, which unfortunately fell on Polish territory.”
WESTERN SOLIDARITY, RUSSIAN CRITICISM
The announcement came after the majority of world leaders gathered at a G20 summit in Indonesia offered their “full support” to the Polish investigation.
Russia, which on Tuesday fired its largest barrage of missiles at Ukraine since October, including at targets in the capital Kyiv and the far west city of Lviv, near Poland, vehemently denied it had fired the rocket that hit the village.
Ukrainian air raid warnings were in place across the country once again on Wednesday as Russia resumed its missile fire at its smaller neighbor.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov on Wednesday described the reaction of some countries, including Poland, to the explosion in the Polish village as “hysterical.”
He did, however, add that United States president Joe Biden had shown “restraint.”
Biden, when asked by reporters at the G20 summit whether he believed Russia had fired the missile, said: “There is a lot of information that contradicts that. I don’t want to say until we fully investigate, but it is unlikely due to the trajectory that it was fired from Russia.”
“At a time when the world has come together at the G20 summit to urge de-escalation, Russia continues to choose the escalation (of the war) in Ukraine,” he said.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz, also speaking from Indonesia, said regardless of who fired the missile that landed in Nato-member Poland, Russia was to blame “because it attacked Ukraine.”
Ukrainian authorities including president Volodymyr Zelenskyy initially insisted that Russia fired the missile that hit the Polish village.
“Unfortunately, there are human casualties. And not only in Ukraine! Russian missiles hit the territory of neighboring Poland yesterday. There should be a quick response,” Zelenskyy told a G20 event earlier Wednesday, according to a transcript from the presidential website.
He added that 100 Russian missiles had hit Ukraine on Tuesday, targeting residential buildings and energy infrastructure. EFE