NATO says Ukrainian missile fell in Poland, but blames Russia

17 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views
NATO says Ukrainian missile fell in Poland, but blames Russia NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg

The Herald

BRUSSELS. – A preliminary NATO assessment showed that an S-300 missile that fell in Poland was Ukrainian, but it was not Kiev’s fault as Russia was responsible for the incident, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday following an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council at an ambassadorial level on the incident concerning the fall of a Ukrainian missile in Poland.

“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks. But let me be clear: this is not Ukraine’s fault,” he said.

According to Stoltenberg, Russia is responsible for what happened. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal … [attacks] against Ukraine,” the official said. “We will continue to support Ukraine in its right to self-defence,” said Stoltenberg.

He also stressed that NATO did not see signs of a premeditated attack on its territory. “But we [NATO] have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack and we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO”, he added.

According to Stoltenberg, NATO considers supplying Kiev with new air defense systems its first priority following the incident involving the downing of a Ukrainian S-300 missile in Poland.

“The main focus of all our efforts over the last month has been on air defense,” he said, adding that “we [NATO] are mobilizing additional support, especially when it comes to different types of air defenses”. According to the Secretary General, the topic of additional supplies will be discussed today at an online meeting of the Contact Group for Ukraine, which coordinates military assistance.

On Tuesday, a missile fell in the village of Przewodow in eastern Poland’s Lublin Voivodeship on the border with Ukraine, killing two people. According to Polish President Andrzej Duda, this was not a deliberate attack on Poland. Warsaw has learned that the missile was most likely an S-300 missile produced in the 1970s, used by the Ukrainian missile anti-aircraft forces.

The Russian Defence Ministry slammed the Polish media and officials’ statements about the alleged fall of Russian missiles as provocation, saying that the country did not strike anything near the Ukrainian-Polish border. The Defence Ministry pointed out that judging by the published photos, the debris had nothing to do with Russian missiles.

The Kremlin said yesterday that some countries had made “baseless statements” about the incident, but that Washington had been comparatively restrained. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia had nothing to do with the incident.

Hours after the incident, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had blamed it on “Russian missile terror”, and yesterday Kyiv did not appear ready to concede that its own missile was involved. 

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, said Kyiv wanted access to the site and still saw a Russian “trace” behind the attack.

However, news that officials had concluded the missile was Ukrainian brought some relief to the inhabitants of the Polish village where the missile struck, who said they had feared being dragged into the war.

“Everyone has in the back of the head that we are right near the border and that an armed conflict with Russia would expose us directly,” Grzegorz Drewnik, the mayor of Dolhobyczow, the municipality Przewodow belongs to, told Reuters.

“If this is an a mistake of the Ukrainians, there should be no major consequences, but I’m not an expert here.”

Some Western leaders at a summit of the G20 big economies in Indonesia suggested that whoever fired the missile, Russia and President Vladimir Putin would ultimately be held responsible for an incident arising from its invasion.

“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 after a meeting between Sunak and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the summit sidelines.

Leaders at the summit issued a declaration saying “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine”, although it acknowledged that “there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”.

Russia is a member of the G20 and Ukraine is not, but Zelenskiy addressed the summit by video link, while Putin stayed home.

Moscow launched Tuesday’s wave of missile attacks just days after abandoning the southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital it had captured since the invasion.

In Kherson, residents in the central square yesterday barely took notice as explosions could be heard of Russian artillery firing into the city. – TASS-Reuters

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