The missile that crossed into Polish territory and killed two civilians on Tuesday were likely fired by the Ukrainian air defense system rather than Russia, according to Polish, U.S., and NATO officials.
The explosion in Poland was likely caused by a Ukrainian air-defense strike fired at an incoming Russian missile, U.S. officials told the Associated Press.
Polish president Andrzej Duda said Wednesday that there is evidence to suggest that Poland was not intentionally targeted but caught in the crossfire of an “air defense missile.”
“Ukraine’s defense was launching their missile in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missile unfortunately fell on Polish territory,” said Duda. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”
‘We have no proof at the moment that it was a missile fired by the Russian side,’ Duda added on Twitter.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that “there was no indication this was the result of a deliberate attack.” He said he did not believe the strike was part of “offensive military actions against NATO,” according to CNBC.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by the Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks,” he said at a press briefing after an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels Wednesday.
Russia had assured Tuesday that its strikes in Ukraine had kept a distance of 35 km (22 miles) from the Polish border.
“The photos published in the evening of Nov. 15 in Poland of the wreckage found in the village of Przewodow are unequivocally identified by Russian defence industry specialists as elements of an anti-aircraft guided missile of the S-300 air defence system of the Ukrainian air force,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.
The missile struck the town of Przewodów, which sits along Poland’s eastern border with Ukraine, killing two residents, Poland’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs had originally demanded Russian officials give an explanation.
#BREAKING DEVELOPMENT: 2 rockets suspected of being fired by Russia landed in the Polish border town of Przewodów killing 2 people.
Before new information suggested the strike was not intentional, world leaders worried it could threaten to pull NATO into the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
As of Tuesday the White House said it could not “confirm the reports” or details of the incident but was working to gather more facts. Moscow on Wednesday alleged that some Western countries, especially Poland, rushed to blame Russia.
Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki convened an urgent meeting with the Committee for National Security and Defense Affairs on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The meeting brought together the department heads of defense, foreign affairs, interior, and justice to coordinate Poland’s national security policy in the wake of the incident.
Neighboring Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks condemned the attack on Twitter, saying the “criminal Russian regime fired missiles which target not only Ukrainian civilians but also landed on NATO territory in Poland. Latvia fully stands with Polish friends and condemns this crime.” Pabriks elaborated that Article 4 of the NATO treaty should be activated, triggering treaty members to come together and discuss the attack.
A chorus of eastern and central European countries joined in to express their concern and support for Poland. Lithuania’s president took to Twitter to stand by Poland, stating “Every inch of #NATO territory must be defended!” Defense ministers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia have released similar statements condemning the provocation and Russian recklessness. The Czech parliament passed a motion by the overwhelming majority of parliamentarians describing the Putin government as “terrorist.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that at least 85 missiles were launched at Ukraine on Tuesday. The attacks have destroyed an estimated 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy grid causing Moldova to face energy shortages.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article, which relied on reporting from the Associated Press, suggested the missile was launched by Russia. The article has been updated to reflect new information which suggests the missile was actually fired by Ukraine in an effort to block incoming Russian fire.
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