Polish President Andrzej Duda said the missile that killed two people in eastern Poland on Tuesday was likely fired by Ukrainian forces defending against a wave of Russian missile strikes, and that the incident appeared to be an accident, CNN
“There is no indication that this was an intentional attack on Poland. Most likely, it was a Russian-made S-300 rocket,” Duda said in a tweet Wednesday. He later told a press conference that there was a “high chance” it was an air defense missile from the Ukrainian side and likely had fallen on Polish territory in “an accident” while intercepting incoming Russian missiles.
Duda’s comments were in line with those of two officials briefed on initial US assessments, who told CNN it appears the missile that originated in Ukraine, even though it was Russian-made.
CNN has not confirmed the type of missile that landed in Poland. Both Russian and Ukrainian forces have used Russian-made munitions during the nine-month conflict, including the S-300 surface to air missile system, which Kyiv has deployed as part of its air defenses. These older-generation weapons systems date back to the period when both Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union.
The missile landed outside the rural Polish village of Przewodow, about four miles (6.4 kilometers) west from the Ukrainian border on Tuesday afternoon, roughly the same time as Russia launched its biggest wave of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities in more than a month.
The US officials said Wednesday that US assessment is what President Joe Biden appeared to be alluding to in earlier remarks when he said it was “unlikely” the missile originated in Russia. The intelligence assessments were discussed at an emergency meeting called by Biden on the margins of the G20 summit in Bali.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said there was no indication the incident was the result of a deliberate attack.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by the Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks,” Stoltenberg told a press conference following an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels Wednesday.
“But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault,” he said. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg added that “we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO.”