On Tuesday, a missile smashed into a field in Poland, killing two Polish citizens. The impact site is approximately 15 miles from the Poland-Ukraine border. Russia was accused of expanding the war, and there were calls for NATO to implement Article 4 (a special hearing) or initiate Article 5 (a military response from all NATO-aligned nations).
Russia denied responsibility for the missile attack and released the following statement:
“No strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish state border were made by Russian means of destruction,” adding that the initial “statements of the Polish media and officials” are “a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation.”
Following an investigation, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced late Tuesday that the missile was “likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense strike targeting incoming Russian attacks.”
On Wednesday, NATO officials released a statement supporting Duda’s conclusion, saying a “Ukrainian air defense missile likely caused the explosion.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said:
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense 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.”
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that based on “preliminary information,” it was “unlikely” the missile came from Russia.
However, during a Wednesday broadcast on Ukrainian TV, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his “top military commanders” said the “the missile was not Ukrainian.”
Financial Times reporter Christopher Miller reported that Zelenskyy said he has “no doubt” that “it was not our missile and not our missile strike.”
President Biden was asked about the contradictory statements a little after noon on Thursday as he was walking across the White House’s South Lawn. When asked about Zelenskyy’s claims, Biden replied, “That’s not the evidence.”
Zelenskyy has advocated for NATO involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Some have questioned whether or not Tuesday’s missile strike in Poland was designed to draw NATO into the fray. U.S. National security adviser Jake Sullivan urged Zelenskyy “to be more careful with what he says,” according to a CNN report.”
President Biden said: “I don’t want to say [who is responsible for the missile strike] until we completely investigate it. But it is unlikely … that it was fired from Russia.”
The National Security Council stated their investigation found “nothing” that contradicts Duda’s assessment, noting in a statement:
“Whatever the final conclusions may be, it is clear that the party ultimately responsible for this tragic incident is Russia, which launched a barrage of missiles on Ukraine specifically intended to target civilian infrastructure. Ukraine had — and has — every right to defend itself.”
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