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Semafor LogoJenna Moon
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Polish president says blast 'very likely' caused by Ukrainian air defense

Jenna Moon is a Breaking News reporter. You can reach her at jmoon@semafor.com. Sign up for Flagship, our daily newsletter that distills what’s happening in the world into a concise, insightful morning read.

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Title iconThe News

Polish President Andrzej Duda said the missile which struck his country on Tuesday was "very likely" caused by Ukrainian air defense.

“Absolutely nothing indicates that this was an intentional attack on Poland... It’s very likely that it was a rocket used in anti-missile defense, meaning that it was used by Ukraine’s defense forces,” Duda told reporters.

Police officers walk near the site of an explosion in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, November 16, 2022.
Jakub Orzechowski/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS
Title iconKnow More

After holding an emergency meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said that Ukrainian air defense was the likely cause of the rocket strike. The explosion killed two people in the village of Przewodów in southeast Poland, near the border with Ukraine.

But Stoltenberg said that Russia was ultimately “responsible for the war that has caused this situation,“ adding, “Let me be clear this is not Ukraine's fault.”

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The NATO chief said there was no indication that Russia was preparing offensive military actions against NATO allies.

Earlier Ukraine had denied the blast was caused by its air defense missile, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba writing on Twitter that it was a Russian “conspiracy theory.”

U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters at the G20 summit in Indonesia that it was “unlikely” the missile came from Russia, while the Kremlin has also rejected any suggestions that it was to blame.

In a statement, White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said they have “full confidence” in the Polish government’s investigation and Duda's assessment that the explosion was caused by a Ukrainian defense missile that "unfortunately landed in Poland."

Three U.S. officials who spoke to the Associated Press said early assessments suggested Ukrainian forces fired at an incoming Russian strike. Ukraine was hit with a barrage of missiles by Russian forces on Tuesday targeting the country's energy infrastructure.

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Title iconThe View From Moscow

In a rare moment of praise, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commended Biden for his measured response to the Polish strike, describing it as “restrained and professional.”

But Russia accused some countries including Poland of reacting "hysterically" in the immediate aftermath of the strike. On Tuesday Polish leaders said the missile was “Russian-made” and that they were considering invoking Article 4 to spur action from NATO, the 30-nation alliance Poland belongs to.

But on Wednesday Poland signaled it may no longer invoke NATO's article 4.

Earlier Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chair of the Russian security council, wrote on Twitter that “the incident with the Ukrainian-alleged ‘missile strike’ on a Polish farm proves just one thing: waging a hybrid war against Russia, the West moves closer to [a] world war.”

Title iconThe View From Kyiv

Ukrainian officials have raised doubts that the missile came from their air defense systems, with Kuleba suggesting the theory was Russian disinformation.

But Ukraine has signaled its intention to work with NATO to determine the source of the missile. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's national security and defense council, said his country has requested access to the blast site.

“We advocate for a joint examination of the incident with the missile’s landing in Poland,” Danilov said. “We are ready to hand over evidence of the [Russian] trace that we have. We are expecting information from our partners, based on which a conclusion was made that it’s a [Ukrainian] air defense missile.”

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he had spoken with Duda, “exchanged available information and are clarifying all the facts.”

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