- A missile killed two people in Poland, but US President Joe Biden said it likely was not fired from Russia.
- The explosion came as Russia unleashed a wave of missiles against Ukrainian infrastructure.
- The United States and NATO countries would investigate thoroughly before acting.
A missile that killed two people in Poland likely was not fired from Russia, US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday after holding talks with the leaders of Western allies amid concerns the Ukraine conflict could spread to neighboring countries.
Tuesday’s explosion at a grain facility near the Ukrainian border came as Russia launched a wave of missiles at Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, attacks that Kyiv said were the strongest in nearly nine months of war.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said the rocket fell on Przewodow, a town about 6km from the Ukrainian border.
Russia denied responsibility for the blast, however Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters that it was “probably a Russian-made missile” but there was no concrete evidence to show who fired the missile and that it was a one-off incident. .
A Russian attack on Poland could risk widening the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are committed to collective defense under its Article 5.
READ MORE | Initial findings suggest a missile that killed 2 in Poland was fired by Ukraine to intercept a Russian attack
Biden called a meeting of leaders gathered in Bali, Indonesia for a G20 summit to discuss the incident. In attendance were leaders of NATO members Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany and Great Britain, as well as Japan, which is not a NATO member, and representatives of the European Union.
Asked if it was too early to say if the missile was fired from Russia, Biden said: “There is preliminary information that disproves that. I don’t want to say that until we fully investigate it, but it’s unlikely along the lines of the trajectory. that it was fired from Russia, but we’ll see.”
The United States and NATO countries would investigate thoroughly before acting, Biden said.
NATO ambassadors are expected to meet later on Wednesday.
Polish officials in Warsaw said their government was likely to request a NATO meeting under Article 4 of the treaty for consultations between the allies, and also raise the issue at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.
The explosion in Poland occurred when Russia hit cities in Ukraine with missiles. Some made it to Lviv, which is less than 80 km (50 miles) from the Polish border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian missiles hit Poland in a “significant escalation” of the conflict. He did not provide evidence of Russia’s involvement.
“All of Europe and the world must be fully protected from terrorist Russia,” he said in a tweet after a phone call with Poland’s President Duda.
READ MORE | Polish residents said they heard a loud “hum” just before a missile killed 2 farmers in a field.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland was increasing the readiness of some military units and called on all Poles to remain calm.
Biden told Duda in a call that Washington is “strongly committed to NATO” and will support the Poland investigation, the White House said.
The Associated Press previously quoted a senior US intelligence official as saying the explosion was caused by Russian missiles crossing into Poland.
But in Washington, the Pentagon, the White House and the US State Department said they could not corroborate the report and were working with the Polish government to gather more information. The State Department called the report “incredibly concerning.”
Germany and Canada said they were monitoring the situation, and the European Union, the Netherlands and Norway said they were seeking more details. French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a verification effort, while Britain “urgently” investigated the report.
A resident who declined to be named said the two victims were men near the weighing area of a grain facility.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied that the Russian missiles hit Polish territory, describing such reports as “a deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about an explosion in Poland.
A funeral services car parked next to two policemen securing access to the site of the explosion in the village of Przewodow in Lublin Voivodeship on November 16, 2022 in Przewodow, Poland.
Latvian Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks said the situation was “unacceptable” and could lead NATO to provide more air defenses to Poland and Ukraine.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Twitter: “Every inch of #NATO territory must be defended!”
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Kyiv had warned about the danger Russian missiles posed to neighboring countries and called for a no-fly zone to be imposed.
“We were asking to close the sky, because the sky has no borders. Not because of uncontrolled missiles. Not because of the threat they pose to our EU and NATO neighbors. Gloves are off. It’s time to win,” he said in a Twitter post.