World leaders gathering at the G20 summit in Bali are trying to diffuse a possible escalation in the months-long war in Ukraine after a “Russian-made” missile struck NATO member Poland, killing one two.
The missile landed outside the Polish village of Przewodow, about four miles (6.4 kilometers) west of the Ukrainian border on Tuesday afternoon, just as Russia launched its biggest ever wave of missile attacks. in Ukrainian cities in more than a month.
The circumstances surrounding the incident, which marks the first time a NATO country has been hit directly during the nearly nine-month conflict, remain unclear. It is not known who fired the missile, or exactly where it came from, although the Polish Foreign Ministry described it as “Russian-made”.
Both the Russian and Ukrainian armies used Russian-made weapons during the conflict, with Ukraine using Russian-made missiles as part of its air defense system.
Speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting with G7 and NATO leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit, US President Joe Biden said preliminary reports indicated it was “unlikely” that the missile was fired from Russia, but could not say with certainty until the moment. investigation completed.
“We agreed to support Poland’s investigation into the explosion… And I will make sure that we find out exactly what happened,” Biden said, adding that the leaders expressed their condolences for the two deaths. “Then we will decide together the next steps as we investigate and move forward. There was total unity among the people at the table,” he added.
After Biden’s announcement, a NATO official told CNN that the missile was being tracked by allied aircraft flying over Polish airspace at the time of the explosion.
“Intel with radar tracks [of the missile] given to NATO and Poland,” said a NATO military official. NATO officials did not say who launched the missile, or where it was fired from.
Tuesday’s missile strike on Poland’s border “would not have happened without Russia’s horrific missile attack on Ukraine,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in an online statement. Wednesday.
“The G7 and NATO members met this morning in Bali during the G20 to discuss what happened in Poland last night. We are united in our message that we need to put the facts first and because it supports the investigation of Poland,” Rutte wrote.
In comments on Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda noted that while it was unclear who launched the missile, it was “most likely” done in Russia. “We are working peacefully and peacefully,” Duda said during a speech from the National Security Agency in Warsaw.
The Kremlin has denied involvement in the blasts, calling Polish media reports, which first reported the death of the Russian Defense Minister, “a deliberate provocation to escalate the situation,” according to a brief statement last Tuesday.
He added that the photos of debris published by the Polish media “from the location of the city of Przewodow have nothing to do with Russian weapons.”
The Russian envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday said that “what happened in Poland is an attempt to provoke a direct military confrontation between NATO and Russia”, adding that the incident will be the focus of attention at the next day’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday that the evidence suggesting that the missile landing in Przewodów was a “single event” and that there was no evidence of additional missile attacks.
But while urging calm, Morawiecki said Poland would increase its military readiness and consider activating Article 4 of the NATO treaty. Article 4 is a consultative mechanism that allows members of the 30-nation alliance to bring issues – often security-related – to the North Atlantic Council, the decision-making body.
Regardless of the outcome of the Polish-led investigation, the incident has reinforced long-standing concerns about the possibility of battlefield miscalculations leading to a NATO-Russia conflict.
Witnesses to the blast described hearing a terrifying “whoosh” as the shot flew across the city and the force of the blast shook nearby windows.
A video taken by a resident, which was viewed and confirmed by CNN, shows heavy smoke in the center of the city.
At the scene of the explosion, local media showed images of a gate and an overturned farm vehicle. CNN could not verify the photo.
In his speech, Duda said the United States would send experts to investigate the site as part of cooperation.
Speaking after Duda’s call on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it was “important to establish all the facts.”
“I express my condolences to the bereaved. NATO is monitoring the situation and allies are in close consultation. It is important to establish all the facts,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.