Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn’t a Russian attack

PRZEWODOW, Poland (AP) — NATO member Poland and the head of the military alliance both said Wednesday that a missile attack on Polish farmland that killed two people appeared to be untargeted and likely fired by air defense forces in neighboring Ukraine. At that time, Russia bombed Ukraine, destroying its power grid.

“Ukraine’s defense was firing its missiles in different directions, and there is a high probability that one of these missiles unfortunately landed on Polish territory,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that this was a deliberate attack on Poland.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the meeting of soldiers of 30 countries Union in Brussels, repeated the preliminary conclusions of Poland. But Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, challenged them and called for an additional investigation.

The assessment of Tuesday’s deadly missile launch appears to have halted the possibility of another escalation in Russia’s nearly 9-month-old invasion of Ukraine.. If Russia were to target Poland, it could risk drawing NATO into the conflict.

However, Stoltenberg and others have been accused, but not specifically, of war with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears the ultimate responsibility,” Stoltenberg said.

Zelensky told reporters that he had “no doubt” about the report he had received from his top commanders “that this was not our missile or missile strike.” He added that Ukrainian authorities should have access to this site and participate in the investigation.

“Let’s say frankly that if God didn’t do it, some remnants (of the air defense of Ukraine) killed one person, that is, these people, then we have to ask for forgiveness,” he said. “But first there’s an inspection, access — we want to get the information you have.”

On Tuesday, he called the strike “a very significant escalation.”

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Ahead of the Polish and NATO assessments, US President Joe Biden said it was “unlikely” that Russia would launch a missile, but added: “I will make sure we know exactly what happened.”

A Russian defense ministry spokesman in Moscow said no Russian airstrikes came within 35 kilometers (22 miles) of the Ukrainian-Polish border on Tuesday. The Kremlin condemned the initial reaction of Poland and other countries and, in rare praise for a US leader, praised Biden’s “restrained and more professional response”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We witnessed an angry, angry and Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real information.”

After Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Polish ambassador in Moscow; It is said that the conversation lasted about 20 minutes.

The president of Poland said that this missile is probably a Russian-made S-300, which belongs to the Soviet era. Ukraine, which was once part of the Soviet Union, uses Soviet and Russian-made weapons, and in addition to striking the aggressive forces of the Kremlin, it has also seized many Russian weapons.

Russia’s attack on power generation and transmission facilities hit the western part of Ukraine bordering Poland on Tuesday. Ukraine’s military said 77 of the more than 90 missiles fired were shot down by air defense forces and 11 by drones.

The countrywide bombardment by cruise missiles and drones obscured the first scene of what happened in Poland.

“It was a huge explosion, the sound was terrifying.” said the director of the primary school in the village of Przhevodov, where the rocket fell, Eva Bira. He said he knew both men who were killed – one was the husband of a school employee and the other was the father of a former student.

Another resident, 24-year-old Kinga Kantsir, said that these people worked at a grain drying plant.

“It’s very hard to accept,” he said. “Nothing happened and suddenly there was a global sensation.”

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In Europe, NATO members demanded a comprehensive investigation and criticized Moscow.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “This would not have happened without Russia’s war against Ukraine, without the missiles that are now being fired at Ukraine’s infrastructure with great intensity and scale.”

The regions of Ukraine were left without electricity after the air strike. Zelensky said about 10 million people lost power, but tweeted that 8 million were later reconnected. Previous strikes have already destroyed nearly 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure.

Ukraine said it was the biggest bombing of its power grid so far.

A Washington-based think tank, the War Institute, said Ukraine’s downing of so many Russian missiles on Tuesday “is the beginning of an improvement in Ukraine’s air defenses over the past month,” which is bolstered by Western-supplied systems. Sweden said on Wednesday that an air defense system with munitions would be part of its latest and largest military and humanitarian aid package to Ukraine, worth $360 million.

The US was the largest supporter of Ukraine, providing $18.6 billion in weapons and equipment. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the transfer of arms and aid “will continue throughout the winter so that Ukraine can continue to consolidate gains and gain the initiative on the battlefield.”

General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint staff of the American army, said that he tried to talk with his Russian counterpart, but these efforts were unsuccessful. Milli did not elaborate on those efforts, but the lack of conversation, amid questions about Russia striking a NATO ally, raises concerns about high-level U.S.-Russian communications in a crisis.

At the United Nations, the organization’s political chief said that the missile attack in Poland was a “terrible reminder” of the need to prevent further escalation of the war.

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As long as the war continues, Rosemary DiCarlo warned the UN Security Council, “the risk of potentially catastrophic proliferation remains very real.”

The Russian offensive follows days of euphoria in Ukraine, which sparked one of its biggest military successes – last week’s recapture of the southern city of Kherson.

With its losses on the battlefield mounting, Russia is increasingly targeting Ukraine’s power grids as winter approaches.

A senior Russian official, Kirylo Tymoshenko, said on Wednesday that at least six civilians had been killed and 17 others wounded in Russian attacks in the past 24 hours.

The governor of Lviv Maxim Kozitsky said that two of the three Russian missiles hit important energy infrastructure in the western region. According to him, electricity was restored in 95 percent of the region, but only 30 percent of consumers can use electricity at the same time.

The power outage caused many train delays that stretched into Wednesday, but there were no cancellations. because the diesel locomotives were put into operation, said the conductors of the road.

Margina Daria, a resident of Kyiv, said that Tuesday’s strikes knocked out cell phone service in her neighborhood.

“We’ve already adapted to life without electricity because we’ve planned outages every day, but without communication it was very worrying,” he said. “There was no way to even tell our families that we were okay.”


AP journalists Vanessa Gera and Monika Skislowska in Warsaw; Lorne Cook in Brussels; John Lester in Kyiv, Ukraine; Juras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia; Zeke Miller in Nusa Dua, Indonesia; Michael Balsamo and Lolita Baldor in Washington; Elise Morton in London; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; and James LaPorte in Wilmington, North Carolina contributed.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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