Poland's missile attack triggers dispute between Ukraine, Western allies
Ukraine's president insists on blaming Russia for explosions while NATO, Poland and US say missile 'likely' fired by Ukrainian air defense system
A dispute has broken out between Ukraine and its Western allies over who fired a missile that exploded Tuesday in a Polish village, with NATO, Poland and the US saying that Ukrainian air defense forces “likely” fired it during a Russian attack.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists on blaming Russia, saying he has "no doubt that it was not our missile" which landed in Przewodow near the border with Ukraine, killing two people.
Responding to Zelenskyy’s remarks, a diplomat from a NATO country said: "This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying (our) confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile," according to British daily The Financial Times.
Though the incident raised fears of an escalation between Russia and NATO, of which Poland is a member, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there is no indication that Tuesday's explosion resulted from a deliberate attack on alliance territory or that there are preparations for any such attack.
"The incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks," said Stoltenberg in Brussels after an urgent NATO meeting.
However, he stressed that the incident is not Ukraine’s fault as Russia instead bears "ultimate responsibility" as it continues its war against Ukraine, which it launched in late February.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said there was a high probability that the missile was fired by Ukraine’s air defenses. Poland has "no evidence" that it was launched by Russia, Duda told reporters.
Supporting Poland's view, US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said: "We have seen nothing that contradicts President Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland."
Europe's reaction to the incident was "hysterical, Russophobic," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing in Moscow.
He also called on Polish officials "to be more restrained, more balanced and professional."
Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry denied that its forces carried out any strikes on targets near Ukraine’s border with Poland.
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