Biden convenes emergency meeting of world leaders after missile crosses into Poland, killing two

President Joe Biden has called an emergency meeting of world leaders after an explosion in eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border killed two Polish citizens on Tuesday. The cause of the explosion was a missile or missile parts that passed through Poland, but the origin of the projectile remained unclear.

Mr Biden told reporters in Bali, Indonesia, where he was attending a G20 summit, that it was “unlikely” the missile was fired from Russia, based on its trajectory. But the president added that the investigation was ongoing and “we will see”.

Explosion kills two in Poland near Ukrainian border
Police officers stand at a blockade after an explosion in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, on November 16, 2022.

KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS


He called Russia in progress barrage of missile attacks on Ukrainewho pounced on Tuesday, “completely unconscionable”, and noted that “dozens and dozens” of missiles had hit the country even as leaders gathered for the G20 summit and called for de-escalation in the war of near nine months.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry earlier said the missile, which landed in the Polish village of Przewodów, was Russian-made, but President Andrzej Duda was cautious about its origin, saying officials did not know not sure who fired it or where it was made. He said it was “most likely” Russian-made, but that was still being verified. Russia and Ukraine relied on stockpiles of Soviet-era Russian missiles during the war.

“We are acting calmly,” Duda said. “It’s a difficult situation.”

The meeting called by Mr. Biden, early Wednesday in Bali, included German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister British Minister Rishi Sunak, EU President Ursula von der Leyen and EC President Charles Michel.

G20 Biden
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of G7 and NATO leaders in Bali, Indonesia, November 16, 2022.

Doug Mills/AP


After the fall of the missile, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau “demanded an immediate and detailed explanation” from Russia, according to a statement from the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Poland also noted that the incident occurred while “another massive bombardment lasting several hours took place on the entire territory of Ukraine and its critical infrastructure by the armed forces of the Russian Federation of Russia”.

However, the statement did not address the circumstances of the strike, including whether it could have been a targeting error or whether the missile could have been deflected by Ukrainian defenses. A NATO statement called it a “tragic incident”. Earlier, a senior US intelligence official said Russian missiles entered Poland, but Poland’s statement said it was a missile.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the government was investigating and increasing its level of military readiness.

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied responsibility for the incident, insisting that “no strikes were carried out against targets near the Ukraine-Poland border by Russian means of destruction” .

In their statements, Poland and NATO used language suggesting they were not treating the blast as a Russian attack, at least for now.

Had Russia deliberately targeted Poland, it would risk dragging the 30-nation NATO alliance into the conflict.


How the United States might react to missiles entering Poland

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency meeting of alliance envoys on Wednesday to discuss the event, and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya told CBS News that he expected the incident to be discussed at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council scheduled for Ukraine on Wednesday as well.

President Biden was briefed on the incident and spoke to Poland’s Duda by phone from Bali. According to a reading of the appeal, Mr. Biden offered the full support and assistance of the United States to Poland’s investigation, and he reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to NATO. The two leaders have agreed to stay in close contact as the investigation unfolds.

The National Security Council said in a statement that the United States was “working with the Polish government to gather more information” and “determining what happened and what appropriate next steps would be.”

Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy facilities on Tuesday with its biggest barrage of missiles yet, hitting targets across the country and causing widespread blackouts. A defiant Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy shook his fist and said, “We will survive anything.

Zelenskyy said Russia had fired at least 85 missiles, “most at our energy infrastructure”, and knocked out power in many cities.

The aerial assault, which killed at least one residential building in the capital, Kyiv, followed days of euphoria in Ukraine sparked by one of its greatest military successes – the recapture last week of the southern city of Kherson.


Ukrainians celebrate in Kherson after the withdrawal of Russian troops

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The electricity grid has already been damaged by previous attacks which destroyed around 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not commented on the withdrawal from Kherson since his troops withdrew in the face of a Ukrainian offensive. But the staggering scale of Tuesday’s strikes speaks volumes and hints at the Kremlin’s anger.

Hitting targets in the late afternoon, shortly before dusk began to fall, the Russian military forced Ukrainian rescue workers to work in the dark and gave repair crews little time to assess the damage in daylight.

More than a dozen regions – including Lviv in the west, Kharkiv in the northeast and others in between – reported strikes or efforts by their air defenses to shoot down missiles. At least a dozen regions reported power outages, affecting cities that together have millions of people. Nearly half of the Kyiv region has lost power, authorities said. Ukrainian Railways announced train delays across the country.

Zelenskyy warned that more strikes were possible and urged people to stay safe and seek shelter.

Eleanor Watson, Ed O’Keefe, Camilla Schick and Pam Falk contributed to this report.

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