NATO chief: Missile blast in Poland likely caused by Ukrainian air defense system

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Thursday, June 30, 2022.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, said on Wednesday that the missile blast in Poland that killed two people Tuesday was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense system, but that “Russia bears ultimate responsibility.” 

Ambassadors from NATO countries held an emergency meeting after reports indicated that a Russian-made missile landed in a Polish village near the country’s border with Ukraine, but Western officials now say that the missile seems to have been launched as part of Ukraine’s defensive measures to protect the country from incoming Russian missiles. 

Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, where he chaired the meeting on Wednesday, that an investigation into the incident is ongoing but there is no indication that the missile explosion was the result of a “deliberate attack” or that Russia is preparing any action against NATO members. 

He said Russia is still responsible for the incident because it started the war in Ukraine with its full-scale invasion in February. 

“This is not Ukraine’s fault; Russia bears ultimate responsibility,” Stoltenberg said. “The whole incident is caused by Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.” 

Other Western leaders, including President Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda, also said the blast appeared to have been an accident. Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied firing missiles near the Ukraine-Poland border. 

Russia has launched a new series of missiles hitting Ukraine since Tuesday after its forces pulled out of the city of Kherson, the only regional capital Russia had captured during the war. Ukrainian officials have expressed caution that Moscow could be setting a trap for Ukrainians in its withdrawal. 

If the missile had been fired from Russia, the war could have seen a significant escalation due to the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty, which created NATO. Article 5 of the treaty states that an attack on one member of the alliance, such as Poland, is considered an attack on all, and members are obligated to take actions that they deem necessary to protect the alliance. 

NATO has avoided a direct confrontation with Russia. Some members have sent military equipment and other supplies to support Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags Andrzej Duda Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg NATO Russia-Ukraine war
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