Blast kills two in Poland near Ukraine border, Russia denies its weapons involved

  • US investigates unconfirmed reports of missing Russian missiles
  • Reports in Poland, a member of NATO, raise the alarm
  • Russia: no attack with its weapons near the Ukrainian-Polish border
  • Ukraine has a huge problem with the missile volley of the Russian war

WARSAW/KYIV, Ukraine, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Two people died in an explosion in a Polish village near the border with Ukraine on Tuesday, firefighters said, with NATO allies investigating unconfirmed reports that the explosion was caused by a stray Russian missile.

The explosions came after Russia hit cities in Ukraine with missiles on Tuesday, an attack that Kyiv said was the worst in nearly nine months of Russian aggression. Others hit the western city of Lviv, less than 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) from the Polish border.

Poland is a member of the Western military alliance led by NATO, which is committed to collective defense, and the possibility that the explosion in Poland was caused by a deliberate or accidental strike by Russia raised alarm.

A NATO official said the alliance is looking into the reports and is in close contact with Poland.

The Associated Press quoted a senior US intelligence official as saying that the explosion in the eastern Polish village of Przewodow was caused by a Russian missile that crossed into Poland.

In Washington, the Pentagon and the US State Department said they could not confirm that Russian missiles had landed on Polish soil.

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“We are aware of media reports alleging that two Russian missiles hit an area inside Poland near the Ukrainian border. I can tell you that we do not have any information at this time to confirm those reports and we are looking into this further,” “Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said.

Russia’s defense minister has dismissed reports that Russian missiles landed in Poland, describing it as a “deliberate act aimed at escalating the situation”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called an emergency meeting of the government committee on security and defense affairs on Tuesday night, government spokesman Piotr Muller said on Twitter.

Polish Radio ZET reported that two stray missiles hit Przewodow, killing two people, without elaborating. The village is located 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, without providing evidence, that “Russian missiles hit Poland.”

Senior officials from Germany, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia – all NATO members – said they were trying to gather more information with Poland and other countries.

“This is a very serious incident but there is still a lot of uncertainty,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt.

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DECISIONS OUTSIDE UKRAINE

Air pipes and explosives rang out in about a dozen major Ukrainian cities, repeating a pattern in recent weeks of Moscow fleeing further and further after losses on the battlefield, most recently the major southern city of Kherson.

Russia launched 110 missiles and 10 Iranian-made missiles at Ukraine in the evening, the General Staff of the Ukrainian army said in a statement.

Zelenskiy said that the main target of the missile flurry was the energy base, as before, although he added that only 10 targets were hit in all.

“It is clear what the enemy wants. He will not achieve this,” he said in a video address on the Telegram messaging app. Kyiv said the protests reinforced its decision to expel Russian forces that invaded in February.

In the capital Kyiv, flames erupted from a five-storey block of flats after being hit by what residents said appeared to be missile fragments. Emergency services say one person has been confirmed dead and another injured. The mayor of Kyiv said half of the capital was left without electricity.

Other protests or explosions were reported in cities from Lviv and Zhytomyr in the west to Kryvy Rih in the south and Kharkiv in the east. Local officials said some of the attacks knocked out electricity, water and heating.

The attack left millions of Ukrainians without power in 16 of the country’s 24 regions including Kyiv, the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said in a statement.

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BUNKERS LEFT

Just four days ago Russian forces abandoned the southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital Moscow had captured since the invasion, and six weeks after President Vladimir Putin declared it a permanent part of Russia.

Moscow had said last week that its troops would take up easy defense positions on the other side of the Dnipro River, which bisects Ukraine. But video footage filmed in the town of Oleshky, across the collapsed bridge from Kherson, appeared to show that Russian troops had abandoned their quarters there.

To the east, Russian-backed officials said they were evacuating government workers from Kherson’s second-largest city, Nova Kakhovka, on the banks of a river next to a large, strategic dam.

Natalya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military, said Moscow appeared to be redeploying troops and artillery 15-20 kilometers (10-15 miles) away from the Dnipro, to protect its artillery against Ukrainian protests.

Russia had weapons capable of hitting Kherson in those new positions, but “we still have something to answer for,” he said.

Reporting by Jonathan Landay, Tom Balmforth and Reuters bureaux; writing by Peter Graff and Mark Heinrich; editing by William Maclean, Alex Richardson and Grant McCool

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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