| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Escalation fears ease after NATO, Warsaw say missile that hit Poland was Ukrainian stray

According to Poland and NATO, the missile that struck Poland was likely a stray shot from Ukraine’s air defenses rather than a Russian attack, allaying international concerns that the conflict in Ukraine would spread across the border.

Nevertheless, according to the head of NATO, Moscow, not Kyiv, was ultimately too responsible for the outbreak of the conflict and the attack that set off Ukrainian defenses.

“Ukraine is not to blame for this. Russia is ultimately accountable for continuing its unlawful conflict with Ukraine “Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, spoke to

NATO ambassadors were holding emergency talks to respond to Tuesday’s blast that killed two people at a grain facility in Poland near the Ukrainian border, the war’s first deadly extension onto the territory of the Western military alliance.

“From the information that we and our allies have, it was an S-300 rocket made in the Soviet Union, an old rocket and there is no evidence that it was launched by the Russian side,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said. “It is highly probable that it was fired by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense.”

Stoltenberg also said it was likely to have been a Ukrainian air defense missile. Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden had said the trajectories suggested the missile was unlikely to have been unleashed from Russia.

The incident occurred while Russia was firing scores of missiles at cities across Ukraine, in what Kyiv says was the most intense volley of such strikes of the nine-month war.

Kyiv says it shot down most of the incoming Russian missiles with its own air defense systems. Ukraine’s Volyn region, just across the border from Poland, was one of the many Ukraine says was targeted by Russia’s countrywide attacks.

The Russian Defense Ministry said none of its missiles had struck closer than 35 km (20 miles) from the Polish border, and that photos of the wreckage in Poland showed elements of a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday some countries had made “baseless statements” about the incident, after having accused Poland of an “absolutely hysterical” reaction on Tuesday, but that Washington had been comparatively restrained.

Hours after the incident, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had blamed it on “Russian missile terror”, and on Wednesday Kyiv did not appear ready to concede that its own missile was involved. Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense 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 to which Przewodow belongs, 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.

The G20 leaders issued a final statement in which they acknowledged that “there were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions,” but stated that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.”

Zelenskiy spoke at the conference via video link while Putin stayed at home, despite the fact that Russia is a member of the G20 and Ukraine is not.

Only a few days had passed since Moscow had abandoned Kherson, the only regional capital it had taken after the invasion, in the south.

The barrage was consistent with Moscow’s pattern of retaliating with longer-range missile volleys after suffering battlefield defeats to a persistent Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east and south.

Residents of Kherson, who flocked to the main plaza on Wednesday to purchase mobile phone cards and humanitarian goods, paid little attention to the explosions caused by Russian artillery fire aimed at the city. From 3 to 4 km away, several hits could be heard.

The majority of the Russian missile barrage on Tuesday was aimed at Ukraine’s power sector, which resulted in power outages in a number of locations, some far from the frontlines. According to the U.N. humanitarian organization OCHA, millions of people were without electricity.

Regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi posted on Telegram on Wednesday that rolling power outage schedules in the western Lviv re

  • Reuters