A missile hit Przewodow village in eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border and killed two people on Tuesday, causing alarm among world leaders about a possible escalation of the war in Ukraine.
In response to the incident, NATO ambassadors were due to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the blast, which occurred while Russia was firing scores of missiles at cities across Ukraine.
Key questions about the circumstances of the missile launch – including who fired it – remained amid the confusion caused by the series of Russian air attacks.
United States President Joe Biden said that the missile that struck the village in Poland was “unlikely” to have been fired from Russia.
Poland said it was probably a “Russian-made missile” but that there was “no concrete evidence” on who had fired it.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, without providing evidence, that Russian missiles hit Poland in a “significant escalation” of the conflict.
Russia’s defence ministry denied that any Russian missiles had hit Polish territory, describing such reports as “a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation”.
As politicians around the world express their concerns about the incident, here are some of the reactions from key figures:
Polish President Andrzej Duda
President Duda said that the attack was “most probably” Russian made but that its origins were still being verified.
“We are acting with calm,” he said. “This is a difficult situation.”
In addition, Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau summoned the Russian ambassador and “demanded immediate detailed explanations,” the government said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy told G20 leaders on Wednesday there was a “terrorist state” among them and accused Russia of the missile strike.
He also had a call with Duda to express his condolences and reiterate Ukraine’s support for Poland.
“We exchanged available information and are clarifying all the facts. Ukraine, Poland and all of Europe and the world must be fully protected from terrorist Russia,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
Had a call with 🇵🇱 President @AndrzejDuda. Expressed condolences over the death of Polish citizens from Russian missile terror. We exchanged available information and are clarifying all the facts. 🇺🇦, 🇵🇱, all of Europe and the world must be fully protected from terrorist Russia.
— Volodymyr Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) November 15, 2022
The Head of the Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said the missile blast was an attempt to provoke a direct clash between Russia and NATO.
“I advise everyone to analyze facts before rushing to conclusions. It’s obvious that impact of direct rocket strike would be significantly bigger than the pictures show,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, the first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN, wrote on Twitter.
The Russian defence ministry said the explosion had been caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile, and that Russian strikes in Ukraine had been no closer than 35km (22 miles) from the Polish border.
“The photos published in the evening of Nov. 15 in Poland of the wreckage found in the village of Przewodow are unequivocally identified by Russian defence industry specialists as elements of an anti-aircraft guided missile of the S-300 air defence system of the Ukrainian air force,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
I advise everyone to analyze facts before rushing to conclusions. It’s obvious that impact of direct rocket strike would be significantly bigger than the pictures show #Wiring https://t.co/WQXTG3fzrK
— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) November 16, 2022
US President Joe Biden
Biden attended an “emergency” meeting of the G7 and NATO leaders in Indonesia on Wednesday morning for consultations on the explosion, and afterwards said the missile was “unlikely” to have been fired from Russia.
“There is preliminary information that contests that,” Biden told reporters when asked if 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’m going to make sure we find out exactly what happened,” he said. “And then we’re going to collectively determine our next step as we investigate.”
There are also reports suggesting that the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile, the Associated Press reported, citing unnamed US officials.
Biden called Duda to express his condolences about the attack.
On Twitter, Biden promised “full support for and assistance with Poland’s investigation”.
Earlier, I met with G20 and NATO Leaders to discuss the explosion in Eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border.
We offer our full support for and assistance with Poland’s ongoing investigation. pic.twitter.com/KZcWZBo4VI
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 16, 2022
Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg
Stoltenberg called the emergency meeting of the alliance’s envoys in Brussels on Wednesday. He spoke to President Duda and offered his condolences.
“NATO is monitoring the situation and Allies are closely consulting. Important that all facts are established,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.
Spoke with President Duda @prezydentpl about the explosion in #Poland. I offered my condolences for the loss of life. #NATO is monitoring the situation and Allies are closely consulting. Important that all facts are established.
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) November 15, 2022
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
Von der Leyen said G20 summit participants discussed the blast in Poland and expressed their continued solidarity with Ukraine.
“We offer our full support to Poland and assistance with the ongoing investigation. We will remain in close contacts with our partners on the next steps. We will stand with Ukraine as long as it takes,” she said.
While G20 leaders were meeting and calling for the war to end, Russia conducted massive strikes against Ukraine.
With G7 and NATO partners, we condemn these brutal acts.
We also offer full support to Poland and assistance with the investigation on the explosion at the border. pic.twitter.com/gohB25y1et
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 16, 2022
Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba
Kuleba denied reports that the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces, calling it a “conspiracy theory”.
“Russia now promotes a conspiracy theory that it was allegedly a missile of Ukrainian air defense that fell on the Polish theory. Which is not true. No one should buy Russian propaganda or amplify its messages”.
Russia now promotes a conspiracy theory that it was allegedly a missile of Ukrainian air defense that fell on the Polish theory. Which is not true. No one should buy Russian propaganda or amplify its messages. This lesson should have been long learnt since the downing of #MH17.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) November 15, 2022
Chinese foreign ministry
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning called for calm.
“Under the current situation, all relevant parties should stay calm and exercise restraint to avoid escalation of the situation,” she told a press briefing.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak
Sunak spoke to Duda about the missile blast and “reiterated the UK’s solidarity with Poland and expressed condolences for the victims”, he wrote on Twitter.
I have just spoken to Polish President @AndrzejDuda following reports of a missile strike in Poland.
I reiterated the UK’s solidarity with Poland and expressed condolences for the victims.
We will remain in close contact and continue to coordinate with our NATO allies.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) November 15, 2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
Scholz called for a careful probe of the deadly incident.
“This destruction must be investigated, the rocket parts must be investigated and then we must wait for the results before they are publicly released,” Scholz told reporters at the G20 summit in Indonesia.
“In such a serious matter, there must not be any hasty conclusions about the course of events before this careful investigation”.
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