Poland and NATO say missile landing was not a Russian attack

PRZEWODOW, Poland (AP) – Poland said Wednesday there was “absolutely no evidence” that a missile that fell on Polish farmland, killing two people, was a deliberate attack on the NATO country and that neighboring Ukraine was likely the Soviet-era projectile fired when it repelled a Russian airstrike that destroyed its power grid.

“The defense of Ukraine launched its missiles in different directions, and it is very likely that one of these missiles, unfortunately, fell on Polish territory,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda. “Nothing, absolutely nothing, indicates that it was a deliberate attack on Poland.”

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

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

The preliminary findings came after US President Joe Biden and other Western supporters of Ukraine threw their weight behind the probe, and amid repeated claims by Russia that it had not fired the missile.

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

Police officers work in front of a grain depot where two people were killed when a Russian-made missile exploded, according to the Polish government on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, in Przewodow, Poland. (AP Photo/Michal Dyyuk)

The rocket landed near the border between Poland and Ukraine on Tuesday. Three US officials said preliminary assessments indicated it was fired by Ukrainian forces at an oncoming Russian one. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

That assessment and Biden’s comments at the G20 summit in Indonesia contradicted information from a senior US intelligence official who told The Associated Press that Russian missiles had entered Poland.

Former Soviet bloc Ukraine maintains stocks of Soviet and Russian weapons, including air defense missiles, and has also seized many other Russian weapons while repelling the Kremlin’s invading forces.

Ukraine’s air defenses worked hard on Tuesday against Russian attacks on power generation and transmission facilities, including in Ukraine’s western region bordering Poland. The Ukrainian military said 77 of the more than 90 missiles fired were shot down, along with 11 drones.

The Kremlin on Wednesday condemned Poland’s and other countries’ initial response to the missile incident and, in rare praise for a US leader, hailed the US response

“We witnessed another hysterical, insane, Russophobic reaction that was not based on real data,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. He added that “all experts immediately recognized that it couldn’t be a missile linked to Russian forces,” noting a “low-key, much more professional response” from the US and its President Joe Biden.

The NATO countries met in Brussels on Wednesday for emergency talks. There was no direct evidence Tuesday’s blast was a deliberate, hostile attack on NATO member Poland that could trigger the alliance’s arrangements for a collective military response.

Russia denied any involvement. But Ukraine was under Russian bombardment across the country from cruise missile fire and exploding drones on Tuesday, clouding the picture of exactly what happened in Poland and why.

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

Still, Scholz and others gave general, but no specific, blame for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Without the Russian war against Ukraine, without the rockets that are now being fired intensively and on a large scale at the Ukrainian infrastructure, this would not have happened,” said Scholz.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed this assessment, saying, “This is the cruel and unrelenting reality of Putin’s war.”

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

Former Soviet bloc Ukraine maintains stocks of Soviet and Russian weapons, including air defense missiles, and has also seized many other Russian weapons while repelling the Kremlin’s invading forces.

Damage from the airstrike in Ukraine was extensive and parts of the country were plunged into darkness. Zelenskyy said about 10 million people lost power but tweeted overnight that 8 million were subsequently reconnected and repair crews worked through the night. Previous Russian strikes had already destroyed an estimated 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure.

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

Had Russia deliberately attacked Poland, it would risk drawing NATO into the conflict.

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

Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied being behind “any attacks on targets near the Ukraine-Polish border” and said in a statement photos of alleged damage had “nothing to do with Russian weapons”.

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

At least one person was killed in the attack in an apartment building in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Days of euphoria followed in Ukraine, sparked by one of its greatest military successes – last week’s recapture of the southern city of Kherson.

With battlefield casualties mounting, Russia has increasingly drawn to Ukraine’s power grid in what appears to be hopes of weaponizing the approaching winter by leaving the people in the cold and darkness.

Vanessa Gera and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw; Zeke Miller in Nusa Dua, Indonesia; Michael Balsamo and Lolita Baldor in Washington, DC; and James LaPorta of Wilmington, North Carolina contributed to this story.

https://www.wane.com/top-stories/poland-nato-say-missile-landing-wasnt-russian-attack/ Poland and NATO say missile landing was not a Russian attack

Dais Johnston

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