Poland and NATO say missile landing wasn’t a ‘deliberate’ Russian attack - National

Poland and NATO say missile landing wasn’t a ‘deliberate’ Russian attack - National

Updated: 2 months, 20 days, 9 hours, 10 minutes, 47 seconds ago

Send this page to someone via email

Poland said Wednesday there is “absolutely no indication” that a missile which came down in Polish farmland, killing two people, was a intentional attack on the NATO country, and that neighbor Ukraine likely launched the Soviet-era projectile as it fended off a Russian air assault that savaged its power grid.

“Ukraine’s defence was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish territory,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, at a meeting of the military alliance in Brussels, agreed with the assessment.

“An investigation into this incident is ongoing and we need to await its outcome. But we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

Story continues below advertisement

The preliminary findings came after U.S. President Joe Biden and other western backers of Ukraine had thrown their weight behind the investigation and amid repeated assertions from Russia that it didn’t fire the missile.

Click to play video: 'Russian missiles reportedly hit farm in Poland, killing two'

2:35

Russian missiles reportedly hit farm in Poland, killing two

Biden said it was “unlikely” that Russia fired the missile but added: “I’m going to make sure we find out exactly what happened.”

The missile came down Tuesday near Poland’s border with Ukraine. Three U.S. officials said preliminary assessments suggested it was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian one. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

That assessment and Biden’s comments at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia contradicted information earlier Tuesday from a senior U.S. intelligence official who told The Associated Press that Russian missiles crossed into Poland.

Story continues below advertisement

Former Soviet-bloc country Ukraine maintains stocks of Soviet- and Russian-made weaponry, including air-defence missiles, and has also seized many more Russian weapons while beating back the Kremlin’s invasion forces.

Poland Russia Ukraine War

View image in full screen

Police officers gather outside a grain depot in Przewodow, eastern Poland, on Nov. 15 where the Polish Foreign Ministry said that a Russian-made missile fell and killed two people.

AP Photo

Ukrainian air defences worked furiously against the Russian assault Tuesday on power generation and transmission facilities, including in Ukraine’s western region that borders Poland. Ukraine’s military said 77 of the more than 90 missiles fired were brought down, along with 11 drones.

The Kremlin on Wednesday denounced Poland’s and other countries’ initial reaction to the missile incident and, in rare praise for a U.S. leader, hailed the response of the U.S.

“We have witnessed another hysterical, frenzied, Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real data,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. He added that “immediately, all experts realized that it could not have been a missile linked to the Russian armed forces,” and pointed to a “restrained, much more professional reaction” of the U.S. and its president, Joe Biden.

Story continues below advertisement

In Brussels, NATO countries were coming together Wednesday for emergency talks. There was no immediate proof that Tuesday’s blast was a deliberate, hostile attack on NATO member Poland that could trigger the alliance’s provisions for a collective military response.

Click to play video: 'Canada monitoring situation ‘closely’ as Russian missiles allegedly kill 2 in Poland: Joly'

0:25

Canada monitoring situation ‘closely’ as Russian missiles allegedly kill 2 in Poland: Joly

Russia denied any involvement. But Ukraine was under countrywide Russian bombardment Tuesday by barrages of cruise missiles and exploding drones, which clouded the picture of what exactly happened in Poland and why.

In Europe, NATO members Germany and the U.K. were among those stressing the need for a full investigation. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned against jumping to conclusions “in such a serious matter.”

Still, Scholz and others also laid overall but not specific blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the Russian war against Ukraine, without the missiles that are now being fired at Ukrainian infrastructure intensively and on a large scale,” Scholz said.

Story continues below advertisement

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed that assessment, saying: “This is the cruel and unrelenting reality of Putin’s war.”

Click to play video: '‘We must act’: Zelenskyy says Russian missiles hit Poland in ‘significant escalation’ of conflict'

1:12

‘We must act’: Zelenskyy says Russian missiles hit Poland in ‘significant escalation’ of conflict

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it “a very significant escalation.” On the other end of the spectrum, China was among those calling for calm and restraint.

Former Soviet-bloc country Ukraine maintains stocks of Soviet- and Russian-made weaponry, including air-defence missiles, and has also seized many more Russian weapons while beating back the Kremlin’s invasion forces.

Damage from the aerial assault in Ukraine was extensive and swaths of the country were plunged into darkness. Zelenskyy said about 10 million people lost power but tweeted overnight that 8 million were subsequently reconnected, with repair crews laboring through the night. Previous Russian strikes had already destroyed an estimated 40 per cent  of the country’s energy infrastructure.

Story continues below advertisement

Stoltenberg called the meeting in Brussels of the alliance’s envoys. The UN Security Council also planned to meet Wednesday for a previously scheduled briefing on the situation in Ukraine.

If Russia had deliberately targeted Poland, it would risk drawing NATO into the conflict.

Polish media reported that the strike took place in an area where grain was drying in Przewodow, a village near the border with Ukraine.

Click to play video: 'North American defence leaders react to reports Russian missiles allegedly landed inside Polish territory'

1:16

North American defence leaders react to reports Russian missiles allegedly landed inside Polish territory

Russia’s Defence Ministry denied being behind “any strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish border” and said in a statement that photos of purported damage “have nothing to do” with Russian weapons.

The Russian bombardment also affected neighboring Moldova. It reported massive power outages after the strikes in Ukraine disconnected a power line to the small nation.

Story continues below advertisement

The assault killed at least one person in a residential building in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. It followed days of euphoria in Ukraine sparked by one of its biggest military successes — the retaking last week of the southern city of Kherson.

With its battlefield losses mounting, Russia has increasingly resorted to targeting Ukraine’s power grid, seemingly hoping to turn the approach of winter into a weapon by leaving people in the cold and dark.

hit counter