Stoltenberg says Russia bares 'responsibility' over Poland incident
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After a meeting of the North Atlantic Council today, Jens Stoltenberg said Russia “ultimately bears responsibility” for the explosion in east Poland yesterday. The Nato Secretary General said the attack close to the Ukraine border was likely a Ukrainian air defence missile that went astray trying to fend off Russia’s barrage of attacks on the country. He said in a press briefing: “We have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack.
“I have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military action against Nato. Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence 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.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda said earlier there is “absolutely no indication” that the missile was an intentional attack and that neighbour Ukraine likely launched the Soviet-era projectile as it fended off a Russian air assault that savaged its power grid.
He noted: “Ukraine’s defence was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles, unfortunately, fell on Polish territory.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”
The missile came down Tuesday near Poland’s border with Ukraine. Three US officials said preliminary assessments suggested it was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian one.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
That assessment and Biden’s comments at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia contradicted information earlier Tuesday from a senior US intelligence official who told The Associated Press that Russian missiles crossed into Poland.
Former Soviet-bloc country Ukraine maintains stocks of Soviet- and Russian-made weaponry, including air-defense missiles, and has also seized many more Russian weapons while beating back the Kremlin’s invasion forces.
Ukrainian air defences worked furiously against the Russian assault Tuesday on power generation and transmission facilities, including in Ukraine’s western region that borders Poland.
Ukraine’s military said 77 of the more than 90 missiles fired were brought down, along with 11 drones.
Jens Stoltenberg’s full statement read: “Our top military commander General Cavalli briefed allies and the Polish ambassador updated us on the incident and the ongoing investigation.
“Yesterday’s explosion took place as Russia launched a massive wave of rocket attacks across Ukraine.
“Since the start of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, Nato has increased vigilance across our Eastern flank and we are monitoring the situation on a continuous basis.
“An investigation on this incident is ongoing and we need to await its outcome. But we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack. I have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military action against Nato.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence 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.
“In the meeting today, Nato allies offered their deepest condolences on the tragic loss of life and expressed their strong solidarity with our valued ally, Poland, and made clear that we will continue to support Ukraine in its right to self-defence.
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“Russia must stop this senseless war. Last night I spoke with the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, and US president, Joe Biden.
“We agreed that we need to stay vigilant, calm and closely coordinated. We will continue to consort and monitor the situation very closely.
“Nato stands united and we will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all allies.”
The Kremlin on Wednesday denounced Poland’s and other countries’ initial reaction to the missile incident and, in rare praise for a U.S. leader, hailed the response of the U.S.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “We have witnessed another hysterical, frenzied, Russophobic reaction that was not based on any real data.
He added that “immediately, all experts realized that it could not have been a missile linked to the Russian armed forces” and pointed to a “restrained, much more professional reaction” of the US and its president, Joe Biden.
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