Tensions erupted after a crucial NATO meeting where Ukraine refused responsibility for the missile.
00:00, Thu, Nov 17, 2022 | UPDATED: 09:37, Thu, Nov 17, 2022
Poland: Missile unlikely to be Russian provocation says expert
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NATO and Ukraine found themselves at odds at an urgent meeting on Wednesday, it has been revealed, as Volodymyr Zelensky said he had “no doubt” a missile that killed two people after landing in Poland near the Ukrainian border was not of Ukrainian origin. NATO, Warsaw and the US all said they believed the missile was “likely” fired by Ukraine in order to defend themselves against Russian missiles, with the alliance’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg making clear that it was “not Ukraine’s fault”, as the firing of the missile was “the direct result” of Putin’s invasion of the country.
But Zelensky would not budge on the issue, insisting that a report he received from the incident left him certain that it was “not our missile or our missile strike”.
His statements have reportedly irked at least one Kyiv-based diplomat from a NATO country, who told the Financial Times: “This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile.”
NATO countries were called to an emergency meeting last night after a missile landed in the Polish village of Przewodów, near the Ukrainian border, during a mass air strike by Russia in which they unleashed over 100 missiles into Ukrainian cities, targeting civilian infrastructure.
The Kremlin denied responsibility for the missile, claiming that not only was the missile that struck Poland not theirs, their weapons had not targeted anywhere near the Polish border – despite multiple recorded instances of Russian rockets hitting Lviv, a Ukrainian city about 62 miles south of the village of Przewodów and only 50 miles from the Ukrainian border.
NATO, the US and Warsaw all declared that while initial reports suggested the missile was fired from Russia, they now believed the missile’s origin was likely from Ukraine as a defensive measure against the Russian air strikes.
Mr Stoltenberg said: “Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks.”
The NATO leader stated that the responsibility still lies with Russia for the missile hit. He said: “This is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears responsibility for what happened in Poland yesterday because this is a direct result of the ongoing war, and the wave of attacks from Russia against Ukraine yesterday.
“Ukraine has the right to shoot down those missiles that are targeting Ukrainian cities and critical Ukrainian infrastructure.”
Poland’s president Andrzej Duda told a press conference today that they believed the missile was “most likely” a Russian-made S300 from the 1970s – but they had “no evidence it was launched by Russia”.
Jens Stoltenberg said that while the missile may have been Ukraine’s, they were not to blame (Image: Getty)
This was backed by the White House, with US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson saying: “We have seen nothing that contradicts President Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defence missile that unfortunately landed in Poland”.
However, Mr Zelensky continues to insist that the missile was Russia’s, pointing to an “evening report to me personally, from the commander of the air force to commander-in-chief [of Ukraine’s military] Zaluzhny”, which he said confirms “that it was not our missile or our missile strike”.
The president added: “It makes no sense for me not to trust them, I’ve gone through the war with them.”
Zelensky said that if some “debris killed these people, we have to apologise”, but called for an investigation before any judgement was made.
According to local Polish reports, the two victims were farm workers in their 60s.
Mr Stoltenberg said the incident had not changed NATO’s assessment of the threat to the alliance and repeated that a top priority was providing air defence systems to Ukraine.