Przewodow, Poland (AP) — NATO member Poland and the head of the military alliance both said Wednesday that a missile attack on Polish farmland that killed two people appears to have been unintentional and may have been fired by air defenses in neighboring Ukraine. . Russia was bombing Ukraine at the time in an attack that knocked out the country’s power grid.
Andriy Duda, the president of Poland, said: “Ukraine’s defense was launching its missiles in different directions, and it is likely that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish soil.” “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest that this was a deliberate attack on Poland.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the military meeting of 30 countries The alliance in Brussels echoed Poland’s initial findings. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky contradicted them and called for further investigation.
Assessments of Tuesday’s deadly missile landing appear to indicate the possibility of an attack that would trigger another major escalation in Russia’s nearly nine-month-old invasion of Ukraine.. If Russia had targeted Poland, it might have drawn NATO into conflict.
However, Stoltenberg and others generally but not specifically blame the war on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This is not Ukraine’s fault. Stoltenberg said: Russia bears the ultimate responsibility.
Zelensky told reporters he had “no doubt” about the report he had received from his top commanders that “it was not our missile or missile attack.” He added that Ukrainian authorities should have access to the site and participate in the investigation.
“Let’s be clear,” he said, “if, God forbid, some (Ukrainian air defense) survivors killed these people, we have to apologize.” “But first there has to be an exploration and access — we want to get the data you have.”
On Tuesday, he called the strike “a very important escalation.”
Ahead of the Polish and NATO assessments, US President Joe Biden said it was “unlikely” that Russia fired the missile, but added: “I will make sure to find out exactly what happened.”
A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow said that no Russian strikes on Tuesday came closer than 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the Ukrainian-Polish border. The Kremlin condemned the initial reaction of Poland and other countries and welcomed Biden’s “more limited and professional response” in rare praise from a US leader.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We saw another hysterical, frenzied, Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real data.
Late on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Polish ambassador in Moscow. The discussion is said to have lasted about 20 minutes.
The Polish president said the missile was probably a Russian-made S-300 from the Soviet era. Ukraine, once part of the Soviet Union, has both Soviet- and Russian-made weapons, and has also captured many Russian weapons while defeating the Kremlin’s aggressor forces.
Russia’s attack on electricity production and transmission facilities on Tuesday included the western region of Ukraine bordering Poland. Ukraine’s military said 77 of the more than 90 missiles fired by air defenses and 11 drones were shot down.
The nationwide bombardment by cruise missiles and exploding drones clouded the initial picture of what happened in Poland.
“It was a huge explosion, the sound was terrible.” Eva Baira, headmistress of a primary school in the eastern village of Prejuvodo, where the rocket hit, said. He said he knew both of the men killed – one the husband of a school employee and the other the father of a former student.
Another resident, Kinga Kansir, 24, said the men worked at a grain drying factory.
“It’s very hard to accept,” he said. “Nothing was going on and suddenly there was a universal sensation.”
In Europe, NATO members called for a full investigation and criticized Moscow.
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said: “This would not have happened without Russia’s war against Ukraine, without the missiles that are now being fired heavily and on a large scale at Ukrainian infrastructure.”
Parts of Ukraine were without electricity after the airstrike. About 10 million people lost power, Zelensky said, but tweeted overnight that 8 million were subsequently reconnected. Previous attacks had destroyed about 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure.
Ukraine said the bombing was the biggest in the country’s power grid so far.
A Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said Ukraine’s downing of several Russian missiles on Tuesday “reflected an improvement in Ukraine’s air defenses over the past month,” which has been bolstered by Western-supplied systems. Sweden announced on Wednesday that an air defense system with ammunition will be part of the latest and largest package of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, worth $360 million.
The United States has been the largest donor to Ukraine, providing $18.6 billion in arms and equipment. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the flow of arms and aid would “continue through the winter so Ukraine can continue to consolidate gains and take the initiative on the battlefield.”
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he tried to speak with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Milli did not elaborate on the efforts, but the lack of dialogue, at a time when questions about whether Russia has struck a NATO ally, raises concerns about high-level U.S.-Russian communications in a crisis. .
At the United Nations, the organization’s political chief said the missile attack in Poland was a “frightening reminder” of the need to prevent further escalation of the war.
As long as the fighting continues, “the risk of potentially catastrophic spillover is very real,” Rosemary DiCarlo warned the UN Security Council.
The Russian attacks followed days of euphoria in Ukraine, which began with one of the country’s biggest military successes – the recapture of the southern city of Kherson last week.
As battlefield casualties mount, Russia has increasingly resorted to targeting Ukraine’s power grid as winter approaches.
Russian strikes have killed at least six civilians and wounded 17 others in the past 24 hours, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Two of the three Russian missiles hit critical energy infrastructure in the western province, Lviv Governor Maksim Kozytsky said. He said that electricity was restored to about 95 percent of the province, but only 30 percent of consumers could use electricity at the same time.
The power shortage caused extensive train delays that continued into Wednesday, but no cancellations were made As diesel locomotives entered service, railway officials said.
Margina Daria, a resident of Kyiv, said Tuesday’s strikes knocked out cell phone service in her area.
“We’ve already adapted to life without electricity because we’ve planned for power outages every day, but it was very annoying without communication,” he said. “There was no way we could even tell our families that we were okay.”
Vanessa Gera and Monika Cieslowska, AP correspondents in Warsaw; Lauren Cook in Brussels; John Lester in Kyiv, Ukraine; Joras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia; Zeke Miller in Nusa Dua, Indonesia; Michael Balsamo and Lolita Baldor in Washington; Elise Morton in London; Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations; and James LaPorta in Wilmington, North Carolina, assisted.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine