Poland missile explosion: World leaders hold emergency meeting as ‘Russian-made’ weapon kills two in Przewodow



CNN

World leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Bali are trying to diffuse a possible escalation in the months-long war in Ukraine after a “Russian-made” missile struck NATO member Poland and killed two people.

The missile landed outside the Polish village of Przewodow, about four kilometers (6.4 miles) west of the Ukrainian border on Tuesday afternoon, almost at the same time as Russia launched its biggest airstrikes on Ukrainian cities in more than a month.

The circumstances surrounding the incident, which marks the first time a NATO country has been hit directly during the nine-month conflict, remain unclear. It is not known who fired the missile, or exactly where it was fired from, although the Polish Foreign Ministry described it as “made in Russia.”

Both the Russian and Ukrainian armies have used Russian-made weapons during the conflict, with Ukraine deploying Russian-made missiles as part of its air defense system.

Speaking to reporters after holding an emergency meeting with the leaders of the G7 and NATO on the sidelines of the G20 summit, US President Joe Biden said that preliminary information suggests that it is “impossible” that the missile was fired inside Russia, but he could not speak fully until the investigation was completed.

“We have agreed to support Poland’s investigation into the explosion … and I will make sure we find out what happened,” Biden said, adding the leaders expressed their condolences over the two deaths. “Then we will collectively determine our next step as we investigate and move forward. There was harmony among the people at the table,” he added.

After Biden’s statement, a NATO military official told CNN that the missile was tracked by an alliance plane that was flying over Polish airspace at the time of the bombing.

“Intel and radar tracks [of the missile] it was given to NATO and Poland,” added a NATO military official. A NATO official did not say who launched the missile, or where it landed.

The missile strike inside Poland’s borders on Tuesday “would not have happened without Russia’s terrible attack against Ukraine,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in an online statement Wednesday.

“The G7 and NATO members present called a meeting this morning in Bali during the G20 to discuss the incident in Poland last night. We are united in our message that we must first establish the truth and support the Polish investigation,” Rutte wrote.

In earlier comments on Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda noted that while it was unclear who launched the missile, it was “most likely” done in Russia. “We are working quietly and quietly,” Duda said in a speech at the National Security Forum in Warsaw.

The Kremlin denies involvement in the shooting, with the Russian Defense Ministry calling reports by Polish media, which first reported the death, “a deliberate act to escalate the situation,” according to a brief statement on Tuesday.

It added that photos of debris published by Polish media “in the village of Przewodow have nothing to do with Russian weapons.”

Russia’s mission to the United Nations on Wednesday said that “the incident in Poland is an attempt to revive direct military conflict between NATO and Russia,” adding that the incident will be the focus of a meeting of the UN Security Council later in the day.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday that the evidence showed that the missile that landed in Przewodów was “a single act” and that there was no evidence of another attack.

But while urging calm, Morawiecki said Poland would increase its military readiness and was considering the implementation of Article 4 of the NATO Treaty. Article 4 is a consultative mechanism that allows members of the 30-nation alliance to bring an issue – usually about security – to discussions at the North Atlantic Council, its decision-making body.

Regardless of the outcome of the Polish-led investigation, the incident has intensified long-standing concerns related to the risk of a miscalculation of the battle creating a NATO-Russian conflict.

A witness to the blast described hearing a terrifying “whoosh” as the projectile flew over the town and the force of the blast shook nearby windows.

A video taken by a resident, located and verified by CNN, shows huge smoke billowing through the village.

At the site of the explosion, local media showed footage of a crater and an overturned farm vehicle. CNN cannot independently verify the photos.

In his address, Duda said the US would send experts to investigate the area as part of joint operations.

Speaking after a phone call with Duda on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “it is important that all the facts are established.”

“My condolences for the loss of my 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.

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