Biden: 'It’s Unlikely' That Missile Fired Into Poland Came From Russia

Patrick Goodenough | November 15, 2022 | 5:05pm EST
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NATO and Polish national flags fly in front of the Polish parliament building in Warsaw. (File photo By Piotr Malecki/Getty Images)
NATO and Polish national flags fly in front of the Polish parliament building in Warsaw. (File photo By Piotr Malecki/Getty Images)

(Update at 6:30 a.m. EST: Poland's president says the missile blast appears to be an "unfortunate accident," not an "intentional attack.")

(CNSNews.com) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the latest barrage of Russian missile strikes on Ukraine, calling them "merciless" and "totally unconscionable." But he stopped short of blaming Russia for the missile that landed in Poland, killing two people.

"Is it too early to say whether this missile was fired from Russia?" a reporter asked Biden, who is in Bali, Indonesia:

"There is preliminary information that contests that," Biden said. "I don’t want to say that until we completely investigate. But it is — I — it’s unlikely, in the minds of the trajectory, that it was fired from Russia. But we’ll see. We’ll see."

Biden said the U.S. and its NATO allies have "agreed to support Poland’s investigation into the explosion in rural Poland, near the Ukrainian border. And I’m going to make sure we figure  out exactly what happened."

The United States is consulting with Poland and other allies after reports that Russian missiles – amid the biggest missile barrage on Ukraine yet since the invasion began – crossed into NATO territory and landed on Polish soil, killing two people.

The White House said Biden spoke by phone to Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Apparently confirming the reported deaths but giving no details, a White House readout on the call said Biden had “expressed deep condolences for the loss of life in Eastern Poland.”

“President Duda described Poland’s ongoing assessment of the explosion that took place in the eastern part of the country near the border with Ukraine,” it said. “President Biden offered full U.S. support for and assistance with Poland’s investigation.”

“President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to NATO. The two leaders said that they and their teams should remain in close touch to determine appropriate next steps as the investigation proceeds.”

Biden also spoke by phone with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to the White House.

Earlier, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters that the U.S. was “working with the Polish government and our allies and partners to gather more information.”

“We will determine what happened and we will determine what appropriate next steps to take,” he said. “Poland is an important partner, an important NATO ally, and so we are continuing to work through these processes and engage on this.”

In response to questions on NATO activating article five of the North Atlantic Charter – an attack on one ally is considered an attack on all – Patel declined to “speculate about hypotheticals.”

With reference to the overall Russian missile barrage, which affected numerous regions across Ukraine, killing at least one person in Kyiv and cutting power to millions, Patel characterized it as a Kremlin response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s video appeal to the G20 summit.

“In response to President Zelenskyy’s speech at the G20, what President Putin did was he – he met Ukraine with another round of cruel attacks that killed civilians and destroyed infrastructure,” he said.

 

According to reports, at least two explosions occurred several miles inside Polish territory, near its border with Ukraine. Polish news portal ONET said two people were reported to have been killed.

Poland’s Radio Zet said two rockets landed in Przewodów, an area about six miles from the border with Ukraine. Przewodów is around 60 miles north of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, one of the targets of Tuesday’s Russian missile strikes.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had urgently convened a ministerial council dealing with national security and defense. Müller did not provide a reason for the meeting, however, and encouraged Poles not to engage in speculation.

Biden has frequently declared an “ironclad” commitment to article five, and a determination to defend “every inch” of NATO territory.

In one such remark, he said at the White House in late September that the United States was “prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory. Every single inch. So, Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying: every inch.”

That sentiment, along with outrage at the reported incident, was heard from some European NATO allies on Tuesday.

“Concerning news from Poland tonight on at least two explosions,” tweeted Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. “Keeping a close contact with our Polish friends. Lithuania stands in strong solidarity with Poland. Every inch of NATO territory must be defended!”

Estonia’s foreign ministry called the news from Poland “most concerning.”

“We are consulting closely with Poland and other allies. Estonia is ready to defend every inch of NATO territory. We’re in full solidarity with our close ally Poland.”

“Criminal Russian regime fired missiles which target not only Ukrainian civilians but also landed on NATO territory in Poland,” commented Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks. “Latvia fully stands with Polish friends and condemns this crime.”

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was consulting with the head of the National Security Bureau of Poland, Jacek Siewiera, about the reports out of Poland, which she said could not be confirmed “at this time.”

The Russian Defense Ministry rejected the claims, saying that there had been no missile strikes against targets near the Ukraine-Poland border.

It said allegations about Russian missiles hitting Przewodów were “a deliberate provocation designed to escalate the situation.”

In a post on Telegram Kremlin propagandist Margarita Simonyan, head of the RT news service, said there was “a high degree of probability” that the incident was either a Ukrainian “mistake,” or a “provocation” by Poland or Britain.

“Before you accuse a country capable of erasing Poland into nuclear ashes, take the trouble to present evidence,” Simonyan said. “The probability that a modern Russian missile will go off course so much is about the same as meeting a living dinosaur on the street.”

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