President Andrzej Duda said it was most likely a Ukrainian missile that fell in Poland, but he also said that the ultimate responsibility lies with Russia, which launched a barrage of missile attacks on Ukraine on Tuesday.
He said: “There is no indication that this was an intentional attack on Poland. Most likely, it was a Russian-made S-300 rocket. We have no proof at the moment that it was a missile fired by the Russian side.
“There are many indications that it was an air defence missile, which unfortunately fell on Polish territory.”
After a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said there was no indication Russia was preparing military action against Nato members.
He said: “We have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack.
“I have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military action against Nato.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks.
“But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault.
“Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
US President Joe Biden and other Western backers of Ukraine threw their weight Wednesday behind an investigation into why and how a missile that Poland said was Russian-made came down in Polish farmland, killing two people, when Russia was savaging the Ukrainian power grid with missiles and exploding drones.
Biden said it was “unlikely” that Russia fired the missile but added, “we’ll see,” and vowed: “I’m going to make sure we find out exactly what happened.”
The missile came down Tuesday near Poland’s border with Ukraine. Three US officials said preliminary assessments suggested it was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian one. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to discuss the matter publicly.
That assessment and Biden’s comments at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia contradicted information earlier Tuesday from a senior U.S. intelligence official who told The Associated Press that Russian missiles crossed into Poland.
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The Kremlin on Wednesday denounced Poland’s and other countries’ reaction to the missile incident as “hysterical” and, in rare praise for a US leader, hailed the “restrained and much more professional” reaction of the US.
“We have witnessed another hysterical, frenzied, Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real data,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. He added that “immediately, all experts realized that it could not have been a missile linked to the Russian armed forces,” and pointed to a “restrained, much more professional reaction” of the US and its president, Joe Biden.
In Brussels, NATO countries were coming together Wednesday for emergency talks. There was no immediate proof that Tuesday’s blast was a deliberate, hostile attack on NATO member Poland that could trigger the alliance’s provisions for a collective military response.
Russia denied any involvement. But Ukraine was under countrywide Russian bombardment Tuesday by barrages of cruise missiles and exploding drones, which clouded the picture of what exactly happened in Poland and why.
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In Europe, NATO members Germany and the UK were among those stressing the need for a full investigation. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned against jumping to conclusions “in such a serious matter.”
Still, Mr Scholz and others also laid overall but not specific blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This wouldn’t have happened without the Russian war against Ukraine, without the missiles that are now being fired at Ukrainian infrastructure intensively and on a large scale,” he said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed that assessment, saying: “This is the cruel and unrelenting reality of Putin’s war.”