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Deadly blast in Poland 'was the result of Ukrainian air defense missile': US defense secretary

17.11.2022 08:30
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said that a deadly explosion in Poland near its border with Ukraine was the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that landed in Poland, but added that Russia "bears ultimate responsibility" for the incident.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinPhoto: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

"Yesterday, we saw reports of a deadly explosion in Poland near its border with Ukraine," Austin said during a press briefing in Washington on Wednesday, as quoted by the US Department of Defense.

"I spoke last night to my Polish counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Blaszczak, and I conveyed my deep condolences to the Polish people and to the loved ones of those who were killed," he added. "I also underscored America's ironclad commitment to defend Poland."

'We have full confidence in Polish govt's investigation of this explosion'

Austin also said: "We have full confidence in the Polish government's investigation of this explosion, and they've been conducting that investigation in a professional and deliberate manner, and so we won't get ahead of their work. And we're going to stay in close touch with our Polish counterparts, as well as with our NATO allies and other valued partners."

Austin told reporters: "We're still gathering information, but 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, and whatever the final conclusions may be, the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident."

'Yet another reminder of the recklessness of Russia's war of choice'

He also said the "tragic and troubling incident" in Poland "is yet another reminder of the recklessness of Russia's war of choice."

"And Ukraine has a bedrock right to defend itself, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they defend their country," Austin stated.

Poland's envoy to the United Nations, Krzysztof Szczerski, on Wednesday briefed the international community on the incident, in which two civilians were killed in the southeast of the country when a missile struck a village near the border with Ukraine.

Addressing the UN Security Council in New York, Szczerski said Poland acted with "full restraint" after a suspected Russian-made missile fell inside its border a day earlier, killing two people and sparking fears of an escalation in Russia's war against Ukraine.

He added that Poland immediately launched an "extensive multi-phase investigation" into the incident, which NATO and the United States said was probably caused by a stray missile fired by Ukrainian forces defending their country against Russian air strikes.

"Poland is also conducting intensive consultations on the incident with its NATO allies and key partners," Szczerski said.

He told the UN Security Council that initial findings showed the incident was not a deliberate attack.

"But naturally, we need to wait for the final conclusion until the investigation is over," he said.

US President Joe Biden said earlier this week that he spoke with Poland's President Andrzej Duda "to express my deep condolences for the loss of life in eastern Poland and offer our full support for Poland's investigation of the explosion."

The Polish president said on Wednesday that there was "no indication" that the missile, which killed two Polish citizens, was intended to hit Poland amid Russia's war in neighbouring Ukraine.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told parliament in Warsaw on Wednesday that it could not be ruled out that the missile incident was the result of a "provocation" by Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the missile was probably a stray fired by Ukraine's air defences and not a Russian strike, but added that Russia "bears ultimate responsibility" for the incident as it "continues its illegal war" against Ukraine.


Source: PAPdefense.gov