Police investigators are seen during a searching patrol in the fields near the site where a missile strike killed two men in a village in eastern Poland Police investigators are seen during a searching patrol in the fields near the site where a missile strike killed two men in a village in eastern Poland  (AFP or licensors)

Western leaders urge restraint, further investigation into Poland missile accident

The secretary general of the NATO military alliance said Wednesday that a missile that landed in Poland killing two people was "most likely" related to Ukrainian air defense systems, though he still blamed Moscow for causing the tragedy. Jens Stoltenberg spoke after a NATO emergency meeting sparked by the first such cross-border missile incident since Russia’s invaded Ukraine on February 24.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Belgium, the NATO chief said it appears that Tuesday’s missile strike that hit the border village Przewodów in Poland was an accident. 

“An investigation into this incident is ongoing, and we need to await its outcome,” he cautioned. 

“But we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack. And we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO,” Stoltenberg stressed. 

However, Stoltenberg argued that the missile strike was linked to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. “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.”

He added that NATO allies have offered “their deepest condolences on the tragic loss of life. They expressed their strong solidarity with our valued ally Poland” a Bato member state. He said the NATO alliance “will continue to support Ukraine in its right to self-defense.”

His words reflected remarks made by Poland's President Andrzej Duda and U.S. President Joe Biden and were likely to ease global concern that the war in Ukraine could spill across the border.

The United States even earned rare praise from Russia - with a Kremlin spokesman describing its reaction as "restrained and professional."

‘Unpredictable battlefield’

Yet, Kyiv cautioned that Russia has turned the eastern part of the European continent into "an unpredictable battlefield."

Inside Ukraine, the human suffering continues, with officials saying that some 100 Russian missiles fired since Tuesday caused more death and destruction.

Russia rained the missiles cities across Ukraine, including here in the capital Kyiv where flats were burning, and at least one person reportedly died. 

The attacks followed Russia's humiliating withdrawal from the strategic Ukrainian city of Kherson. 

Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the latest wave of missile strikes on Ukraine. 

He called for a ceasefire to avert the risk of further escalation of the war, which is believed to have killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people. 

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16 November 2022, 16:16