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No indication blast in Poland was a deliberate attack, says NATO chief

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By Alasdair Sandford  & Andrea Carlo  with AP, AFP, Reuters
A view shows damages after an explosion in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, in this image obtained from social media by Reuters
A view shows damages after an explosion in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, in this image obtained from social media by Reuters   -   Copyright  Credit: Reuters   -  

There is no indication that a projectile which landed in a Polish village was a deliberate attack, NATO's chief stated on Wednesday, as ambassadors from the organisation met in an emergency session to discuss the nature of the incident.

The missile hit Przewodow in close proximity to the Ukrainian border on Tuesday, killing two people. 

The investigation is continuing. Current findings, supported by Western leaders, point to the missile having been fired by Ukrainian forces. 

Such reports have alleviated global fears that the missile incident may have been a part of a Russian attack, which could have triggered a significant escalation and spillover of the conflict into NATO territory. 

Ukraine, nevertheless, wants access to the blast site as it maintains it has proof of a "Russian trace". 

The explosion happened amidst an escalation in Russia's offensive as the country unleashed an avalanche of missiles on Ukraine, targeting Kyiv's residential areas and energy infrastructure.

For a summary of Tuesday's events as they unfolded, click here.

'This is not Ukraine’s fault', NATO chief says

NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that "Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine," while also stating there were no signs the missile incident was intentional.

"An investigation is ongoing, and we need to await its outcome, but we have no indication that this was an assault or a deliberate attack," Stoltenberg said, adding that there is no proof that "Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO."

"Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian defence missile fired to defend (its) territory against Russian cruise missile attacks."

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday considered it "highly likely" that the missile that killed two people on the border with Ukraine was used by the Ukrainian defence.

"There is no indication that this was an intentional attack on Poland," Duda told reporters.

"There is a high probability that this is a missile that was simply used by Ukrainian missile defence," he continued. He added that it was "probably an unfortunate accident, alas."

Ukraine asks for access to blast site in Poland

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated on Wednesday that there are "many indications" that the blast was caused by a missile launched by Kyiv forces.

"Yesterday, countering Russia's massive missile attack on Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian forces fired missiles to shoot down Russian (ones)."

"There are many indications that one fell on Polish territory, without any intention of either party," Morawiecki said at a press conference, according to his office.

Belgium's Defence Minister, Ludivine Dedonder, also expressed his belief that the incident was "the result of Ukrainian air defence systems, used to counter Russian missile."

"Investigations are continuing, but at present there is no indication that it was a deliberate attack," the minister added in a statement.

Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, said Ukraine wanted a joint study of Tuesday's incident with its partners and to see the information that provided the basis for its allies' conclusions.

Kyiv is "completely open to a comprehensive study of the situation," he wrote on the council's official Facebook page.

Danilov also said Ukraine has evidence of a "Russian trace" in the incident and echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in blaming Russia's "missile terror". Danilov provided no details of what evidence he was citing.

Poland has not openly responded to Ukraine's request, with the spokesman of the country's foreign ministry stating by email that he would "not comment on this matter".

Moscow praises US "restraint" in addressing the issue

The Kremlin hailed the US "restraint" over the missile that fell in Poland the previous day, saying Russia had "nothing to do" with the incident that sparked a flare-up of tension.

"In this case, we should note the restrained and more professional reaction of the American side," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, denouncing the "hysteria" of "senior officials of several countries who made statements without having a clear idea of what caused" the explosion in Poland.

"Russia has nothing to do with the incident in Poland," he said, echoing other Russian officials who quickly denied any involvement in the blast.

Moscow has claimed that Tuesday's explosion in Poland was caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile and that Russian strikes in Ukraine had been no closer than 35 km from the Polish border.