World leaders meeting at the G20 summit in Bali are trying to diffuse a potential escalation in the months-long war in Ukraine after a ‘Russian-made’ missile landed inside Poland, a member of the NATO, killing two people.
The missile landed outside the Polish village of Przewodow, about 6.4 kilometers west of the Ukrainian border on Tuesday, around the same time Russia was launching its biggest wave of missile attacks against Ukrainian cities for more than a month.
The circumstances surrounding the incident, which marks the first time a NATO country has been directly affected in nearly nine months of conflict, remain unclear. It is not known who fired the missile or where it was fired from.
Speaking to reporters after holding an emergency meeting with G7 and NATO leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, US President Joe Biden said preliminary information suggests he was “unlikely” that the missile was fired from Russia, but he could not. I don’t say conclusively until the investigation is complete.
“We’ve agreed to support Poland’s investigation into the explosion…And I’ll make sure we understand exactly what happened,” Biden said, adding that they had expressed sympathy for the death. of two people. “Then we will collectively determine our next step as we investigate and proceed. There was complete unanimity among the people around the table,” he added.
Biden said he briefed the leaders on his previous discussion with Polish President Andrzej Duda and with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
In comments earlier Tuesday, Duda noted that while it was unclear who launched the missile, it was “most likely” produced in Russia. “We are working calmly and very calmly,” Duda said during a National Security Office speech in Warsaw. The Polish Foreign Ministry previously described the missile as “Russian-made”.
Both Russian and Ukrainian forces used Russian-made munitions during the conflict, with Ukraine deploying Russian-made missiles as part of its air defense system.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the blast, with Russia’s Defense Ministry calling reports from Polish media, which first reported the deaths, a ‘deliberate provocation with the aim of aggravating the situation’, according to a brief release Tuesday evening.
He added that photos of the wreckage published by Polish media “of the scene in the village of Przewodow have nothing to do with Russian weapons”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN he had no information about an explosion in Poland.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday that evidence suggests the missile that landed in Przewodów was a “one-off” and that there is no evidence of new missile strikes.
But Poland is increasing its military preparedness, Morawiecki said, and that Poland is conducting a thorough analysis and consultations with its allies regarding the potential use of Article 4 of the NATO treaty. Article 4 allows any member to request consultations with the rest of the alliance and the states.
A witness to the explosion said he heard a terrifying “whoosh” as the projectile flew over the city and the force of the explosion rattled nearby windows.
A video taken by a resident, geolocated and confirmed by CNN, shows a large plume of smoke in the center of the village.
At the site of the explosion, local media showed an image of a crater and an overturned farm vehicle. CNN cannot independently confirm the photos.
In his speech, Duda said the United States would send experts to investigate the site as part of a joint operation.
Speaking after a call with Duda on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it was “important that all the facts are established”.
“I offered my condolences for the loss of life. NATO is monitoring the situation and the Allies are consulting closely. It is important that all the facts are established,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.