Polish village strike escalates Ukraine war tensions

Polish village strike escalates Ukraine war tensions

Updated: 16 days, 13 hours, 54 minutes, 55 seconds ago

After initial suspicions the missile was either a Russian stray or deliberate provocation by Moscow, unnamed US officials were suggesting it may have been a wayward Ukrainian missile fired in self-defence during a Russian onslaught.

Nonetheless, Western powers, Australia included, argued that the incident which killed two civilians in the Polish village of Przewodow, was a direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Addressing the final session of the G20, host and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited Moscow earlier this year, called on Vladimir Putin to stop the war.

“Allow me to repeat the message that I conveyed at the summit opening yesterday: stop the war. I repeat stop the war,” he said.

“A lot is at stake. The war only brings suffering to mankind. Global economic recovery will not happen if the situation doesn’t improve.

“As leaders we all have responsibility to ensure conducive global situation for the future of the world.”

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During his meeting Tuesday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urged him to prevail upon Mr Putin to stop the war which, Mr Albanese told the Chinese leader, was causing economic suffering in Australia.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong echoed the call publicly on Wednesday.

“The world does look to China, which is a great power and a....permanent member of the (United Nations) Security Council, to use its influence to end a war that is not only illegal and immoral, but a war that risks security,” she said.

“We all want peace.”

Shadow foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham backed Senator Wong.

“Whilst President Xi Jinping is there with other leaders in Bali he should step up and apply extra pressure on Russia to end this illegal, immoral invasion of Ukraine,” he said.

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Overnight Tuesday, hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left the G20 a day early, complaining it was being politicised, the Polish foreign office said a “Russian-made missile” hit the village, killing two civilians.

“The Polish government has launched an investigation in order to establish all the facts surrounding the incident,” it said.

“Poland remains in close contact and co-ordination with our NATO, EU and other allies to determine relevant next steps.”

Mr Albanese backed calls by leading nations for a full investigation and “appropriate response” should Moscow be to blame.

“As (NATO) Secretary-General Stoltenberg and President Biden have said, we need to have a full investigation as to how this has occurred and the circumstances,” he said.

“That must take place, and then we should consider what as an international community is an appropriate response.”

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Russia has denied targeting Poland, an act which could trigger a response from NATO under Article IV.

Emergency G7 meeting

The potential severity of the incident led United States President Joe Biden to convene an emergency meeting of the G7-plus in Bali on Wednesday morning. These were Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union, along with the president of the European Council and the prime ministers of Spain and the Netherlands.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, whose country is a member of NATO, accepted Russia’s denial and warned that continuing to insist the missile came from Russia would be a provocative act.

He dismissed the G7 and NATO gathering as “an unimportant meeting”.

Afterwards, Mr Biden said it was “unlikely” the missile was fired from Russia, but he pledged support for Poland’s investigation.

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Mr Biden said the trajectory of the rocket cast doubt on it coming from Russia, without elaborating.

“There is preliminary information that contests that,” Mr Biden told reporters when asked if the missile had been fired from Russia. “It is unlikely in the lines of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia, but we’ll see.”

Mr Biden stressed the importance of determining “exactly what happened. Then we will collectively determine the next steps”.

Nonetheless, Mr Biden said Russia had escalated the conflict with scores of missile attacks in western Ukraine which was “unconscionable behaviour” while G20 nations were gathered in Bali to urge “de-escalation”.

“At a moment when world leaders here in Bali are seeking to make progress on global peace, Putin is striking civilian targets and children and women,” he said.

“It’s just...barbaric, what he’s doing.”

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Other leaders concurred, including new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who had a bilateral meeting with Mr Albanese on Wednesday night.

A statement from the Polish Foreign Ministry identified the missile as being made in Russia. But President Andrzej Duda was more cautious about its origin, saying officials did not know for sure who fired it or where it was made. He said it was “most probably” Russian-made, but that is being still verified.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency meeting of the alliance’s envoys to discuss the events. The foundation of the NATO alliance is the principle that an attack against one member is an attack on them all.

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