kyiv reiterated on Wednesday that the missile that killed two people the day before in a Polish village near the border with Ukraine was “Russian”, contradicting NATO and Washington which rather accredit the thesis of a Ukrainian defense missile. “I have no doubt that this missile was not ours,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on television on Wednesday evening, stressing that kyiv wanted to be part of an international investigation group into this incident.
“I believe it was a Russian missile, in accordance with the report of the Ukrainian military”, he added while NATO officials estimated that it was probably a missile from the Ukrainian system of anti-aircraft defense. He then demanded access for Ukrainian experts to “all data” from Westerners and to the site of the explosion of the missile that fell in Poland. “We want to establish all the details, every fact.”
Budapest had earlier lambasted Volodymyr Zelensky, saying he was setting “a bad example” by claiming the missile was Russian. “In such a situation, world leaders speak responsibly,” said Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The fall of the missile on the Polish village of Przewodow has raised fears that NATO could be drawn into the conflict — causing a major escalation — in Ukraine, as Poland is protected by an Atlantic Alliance collective defense commitment . Russia denied having fired the missile, Warsaw itself deeming it “highly probable” that it was a Ukrainian anti-aircraft projectile, citing “an unfortunate accident”.
The missile killed two men in Przewodow by hitting an agricultural building, leaving Poland in shock and its army on heightened alert. The White House has “seen nothing that contradicts” the hypothesis, advanced by Warsaw, according to which this missile came “in all probability” from the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense, estimated on Wednesday a spokeswoman for the National Security Council , Adrienne Watson.
“The incident was probably caused by a missile from the Ukrainian air defense system fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missiles,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after a crisis meeting in Brussels.
No “intentional” attack
“There is no indication that this was an intentional attack on Poland,” Polish President Andrzej Duda also said. From Bali, where the G20 met at the summit, US President Joe Biden had previously also deemed it “improbable” that the missile was fired by Russia.
Moscow hailed Washington’s “restraint”. Poland had urgently convened its National Security Council on Tuesday and summoned the Russian ambassador for “immediate detailed explanations”. The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday evening that it had informed the Polish ambassador in Moscow Krzysztof Krajewski, “the unacceptable character of the strengthening in Poland of an anti-Russian hysteria” after the incident.
“As it was dark and at that time there was no reliable information about what had just happened, Warsaw found it necessary to summon the Russian ambassador and turn this into a political show” , denounced Russian diplomacy, while calling on Poland not to take part in “dirty provocations”.
Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, called on “all parties concerned” to “remain calm and exercise restraint in order to avoid an escalation”.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and still controls parts of it, despite a string of battlefield defeats in recent months. Poland, which has a 530 km border with Ukraine, is a regional leader in terms of military and humanitarian assistance to its eastern neighbor. It hosts on its territory some 10,000 American soldiers.
The missile fell as Russia carried out massive strikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure on Tuesday, which left millions of homes without power. Russian missiles hit cities across the country, including Lviv (west), near the Polish border.
“Yesterday’s (Tuesday) blackout clearly shows that the nuclear safety and security situation in Ukraine may suddenly worsen, increasing the risk of a nuclear emergency,” Rafael Grossi said in a statement. , the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The US Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, ruled on Wednesday that these Russian missile strikes constituted a “war crime”. The highest-ranking United States official considered that Russia had failed on all fronts in its war against Ukraine, and was therefore waging a “campaign of terror” there.
These strikes, which killed at least one person in kyiv, led to widespread power cuts in Ukraine and as far as neighboring Moldova. Moscow on Wednesday denied targeting the capital, saying “all the destruction in the Ukrainian capital’s living quarters…is a direct result of the fall and self-destruction of anti-aircraft missiles launched by the Ukrainian forces”.
The coming week will be “difficult” for the inhabitants of the kyiv region, warned regional governor Oleksiï Kouleba, because “the destruction is important” and “it is expected that (…) temperatures will drop to ‘at -10°C’. These Russian attacks took place four days after the humiliating withdrawal of Russian forces from part of the Kherson region, including the southern city of the same name, after more than eight months of occupation.
Ukraine’s security service announced on Wednesday evening the discovery of “another torture chamber of Russian occupiers” in Kherson. “The Russians kept local patriots there who refused to cooperate with the enemy in inhumane conditions. Residents of Kherson were interrogated and brutally tortured,” the source added.
Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskyi said on Wednesday evening that 436 proceedings had been opened after the discovery in this region of elements which could be qualified as war crimes, in particular eleven sites of imprisonment including “four” having traces of rooms of torture. So far, “63 bodies” have been found “but the search is just beginning and many more torture sites and burials will be discovered,” he noted, according to the Ukrainian government website.