There is no evidence a missile that slammed into a Polish border town near Ukraine was an intentional attack on his country, Poland President Andrzej Duda said Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and NATO leaders supported Duda’s assertion. The missile, which killed two people in a rural area, appeared to be Russian-made, Duda said. Ukraine’s weaponry includes Russian-made missiles.
“Ukraine’s defense was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish territory,” Duda said. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters that, based on information from his top commanders, “it wasn’t our missile or our missile strike,” adding that his officials should have access to the site and participate in the investigation.
He also said that if the evidence shows the missile came from Ukraine, “then we need to apologize.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, at a meeting of the military alliance in Brussels, said a preliminary analysis suggests the incident was likely caused by an Ukrainian air defense missile fired against Russian cruise missile attacks.
“But let me clear: This is not Ukraine’s fault,” he said. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said photos of the wreckage released by Poland indicated the missile was from a Ukrainian S-300 missile defense system. Russia itself carried out massive missile strikes against Ukrainian cities Tuesday, knocking out power to millions of people.
“All the missiles launched hit their designated targets precisely,” the Defense Ministry’s press service said in a statement. Ukraine said it actually shot down more than 70 of the 90-100 missiles fired, in addition to 11 drones.
US, NATO INVESTIGATE BLAST IN POLAND:Biden says missile unlikely to have been fired from Russia
►With Democrats still in control of both chambers of Congress for the rest of the year, President Joe Biden will ask for more than $37 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine — nearly 60% of that in military assistance — as part of the package to fund the U.S. government through the end of September 2023.
►In light of a missile landing in Poland and killing two people Tuesday, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that it’s “Time for Europe to ‘close the sky over (Ukraine).’ For your own safety too.”
►French President Emmanuel Macron urged China to play a greater mediation role in efforts to end the war. He said he might meet in Beijing next year with President Xi Jinping.
►The Czech Republic has agreed to train up to 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers on Czech territory. The Defense Ministry said the training will include five rotations with up to 800 soldiers each, starting in the next few weeks.
►Sweden said it would provide Ukraine with military aid worth $290 million and a humanitarian aid package worth $70 million.
‘Cautious’ optimism grain deal with be renewed
The United Nations is “cautiously optimistic” the Ukraine-Russia grain agreement will be extended past its Saturday expiration date, allowing the continued shipping from Black Sea ports of agricultural products that are critical to preventing a global food crisis.
A U.N. official not authorized to speak publicly said Wednesday that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had a “very positive” discussion about the topic at the G-20 summit with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The agreement, approved July 22 and brokered by the U.N. and Turkey, has allowed Ukraine to export more than 11 million metric tons of wheat and Russia to ship its grain and fertilizer to world markets. An extension would last for 120 days.
US backs view that blast in Poland was not intentional Russian attack
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed Wednesday that the U.S. believes the missile that slammed into a Polish border town near Ukraine on Tuesday was an errant air defense projectile launched by Kyiv.
“We’re still gathering information, but we have seen nothing that contradicts (Polish) President Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland,” Austin said. “And whatever the final conclusions may be, the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident.”
– Josh Meyer
Kremlin has rare praise for US leaders
The deadly missile strike in Poland showed once again that rushing to judgment can escalate the situation, but U.S. officials showed restraint during the crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Wednesday. Dmitry Peskov blasted Europe and Ukraine’s reaction to the incident as another example of “frenzied Russophobia.”
Hours after the strike, President Joe Biden said it was “unlikely” that Russia had intentionally fired the missile into Poland.
“In this case, it makes sense to pay attention to the restrained and far more professional response of the American side and the American president,” Peskov said.
Peskov told the state-run Tass news agency that communication channels between the defense ministries of Russia and the United States continue to function. He stressed “a rather restrained reaction of the Americans, which was a stark contrast to the absolutely hysterical reactions of the Polish side and a number of other countries.”
Lviv struggles with power limitations
The southern and eastern regions of Ukraine have taken the worst pounding from Russian missiles since the war began. But western cities have been far from exempt. Power has been restored to 95% of the Lviv region, but only 30% of consumers can use electricity at the same time because of capacity limits, provincial governor Maksym Kozytskyy said Wednesday. He added that it may take a year to fully restore the power grid.
Kozytskyy said the province was better prepared for the latest Russian attack on the grid. Engineers were able to work with the help of diesel generators, and substations in the region had been equipped with additional protective shields. Also, a large number of cars with loudspeakers were quickly deployed to warn locals, he said.
Ukraine air defense getting better
Ukrainian air defenses shot down 73 of about 100 Russian missiles – and all drones – in Tuesday’s massive assault on the country, the Ukrainian General Staff said. In a coordinated assault Oct. 10, the Ukrainians shot down 43 cruise missiles out of 84 and 13 drones out of 24, the Institute for the Study of War reported.
“Ukraine‘s increased shoot-down percentage illustrates the improvement in Ukrainian air defenses in the last month,” the institute said in its latest assessment of the war. “The Ukrainian General Staff attributed this improvement to the effectiveness of Western-provided air defense systems.”
The institute also said Russian forces are greatly depleting their stock of high-precision weapons systems and will likely have to slow the pace of their campaign against critical Ukrainian infrastructure.
Contributing: The Associated Press