Ukrainian missile may have hit Poland: US officials

A missile that killed two people in Poland was unlikely to have been fired from Russia, US President Joe Biden says, after the blast raised global alarm that the Ukraine conflict could spill into neighbouring countries.

US officials say initial findings are that the blast was caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired at a Russian missile.

NATO ambassadors were due to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to respond to the explosion at a grain dryer near the Ukrainian border, which occurred while Russia was firing scores of missiles at cities across Ukraine.

Kyiv says it shot down most of the incoming Russian missiles with its own air defence missiles. Ukraine’s Volyn region, just across the border from Poland, was one of the many it says was targeted by Russia’s attacks.

The Polish foreign ministry said the rocket fell on Przewodow, a village about 6 kilometres from the border with Ukraine.

Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters that it was “most likely a Russian-made missile”, but that there was no concrete evidence of who fired it.

Both Russia’s long-range missiles and the air defence missiles that Ukraine fired to shoot them down are Russian made.

Asked whether it was too early to say if the missile was fired from Russia, Mr Biden said: “There is preliminary information that contests that. I don’t want to say that until we completely investigate it, but it is unlikely in the lines of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia, but we’ll see.”

The United States and NATO countries would fully investigate before acting, Mr Biden said, speaking in Indonesia after meeting other Western leaders on the sidelines of a summit of the G20 big economies.

The Associated Press news agency, which had initially cited a senior US intelligence official as saying Russian missiles had caused the blast in Poland, later quoted US officials as saying initial findings were now that the blast was caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile.

A resident who declined to be identified said the two victims were men who were near the weighing area of a grain facility.

Russia’s defence ministry denied that any Russian missiles had hit Polish territory, describing such reports as “a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation”.

“There is an attempt to provoke a direct military clash between NATO and Russia, with all the consequences for the world,” Dmitry Polyansky, the head of the permanent mission of Russia to the United Nations, said on his Telegram channel.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, without providing evidence, that Russian missiles hit Poland in a “significant escalation” of the conflict.

“All of Europe and the world must be fully protected from terrorist Russia,” he said in a tweet after a phone call with Poland’s President Duda.

Some Western leaders said that whoever fired the missile, Russia was ultimately responsible.

“They stressed that, whatever the outcome of that investigation, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is squarely to blame for the ongoing violence,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said.

Officials in Warsaw said NATO member Poland was likely to request a meeting of the Western military Alliance under Article 4, and also raise the issue at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

Article 4 of the NATO treaty requires members to consult if one of them believes its security is threatened, while Article 5 requires members to defend one another from attack.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland was increasing the readiness of some military units, and called on all Poles to remain calm.

Mr Biden told Mr Duda in a call that Washington has an “ironclad commitment to NATO” and will support Poland’s investigation, the White House said.

The explosion in Poland came as Russia pounded cities across Ukraine with missiles in what Kyiv called the heaviest strikes of the war so far.


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