Two people were killed in Poland on Tuesday after a missile hit the village of Przewodów near the border with Ukraine.
Who fired the missile?
Based on initial assessments, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda said it was “very likely” the missile was fired by Ukraine’s air defence systems to defend against a barrage of Russian strikes.
“Absolutely nothing indicates that this was an intentional attack on Poland,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “It's very likely that it was a rocket used in anti-missile defence, meaning that it was used by Ukraine's defence forces.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that while investigations were ongoing, “we have no indication this was the result of a deliberate attack. And we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO.”
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Stoltenberg continued: “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 he added: “This is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
What else has been said?
Poland’s foreign ministry had earlier said the missile was “Russian-made” and summoned the Russian ambassador.
US President Joe Biden had said it was “unlikely” the missile was fired from Russia.
“There is preliminary information that contests that,” Biden said when asked by reporters at the G20 summit in Indonesia whether the missile had been fired from Russia. “It is unlikely in the lines of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia, but we’ll see.”
“I am calling on all Poles to remain calm in the face of this tragedy,” Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said after holding emergency meetings in Warsaw. “We must exercise restraint and caution.”
What does this mean?
Russia launched a huge barrage of missile strikes across Ukraine on Tuesday, leaving many cities without power, which Ukraine said was a targeted attack against the country’s energy infrastructure.
Ukraine’s missile stocks include Russian and Soviet-made missiles, including air defence systems.
What did Russia and Ukraine say?
Russia denied firing the missile, and its defence ministry has called the situation “a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation.” Russian statements are treated with caution by Ukraine and its Western allies, as Moscow has in the past said it would follow one course of action, and then made a completely contradictory decision.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: “The incident with the Ukrainian-alleged ‘missile strike’ on a Polish farm proves just one thing: waging a hybrid war against Russia, the West moves closer to the [sic] world war.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had earlier claimed Russian missiles had hit Poland, without providing evidence. He said the incident was a “significant escalation” of the conflict.
On Wednesday, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said: “Only Russia is responsible for the war in Ukraine and massive missile strikes. Only Russia is behind the rapidly growing risks for the border countries.”
What happens now?
Investigations into exactly what happened continue. Poland is a member of the NATO security alliance. It could trigger Article 4 of the NATO treaty, where members consult on whether the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of a member is under threat.
In Indonesia, where the G20 summit is taking place, an emergency meeting of G7 and NATO leaders was convened.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Zelenskyy on the phone from Indonesia, with a readout saying that they had told Ukraine’s president, “whatever the outcome of that investigation [into the missile strike], Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is squarely to blame for the ongoing violence.”
Russia is a member of the G20 but Vladimir Putin did not attend the summit. In a final communique, G20 leaders said that “most members” condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Speaking in Brussels, NATO chief Stoltenberg said allies had expressed “strong solidarity” with Poland and support for Ukraine in its right to self-defence. “Russia must end this war,” he added.