RUSSIA “BEARS RESPONSIBILITY”
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg underlined this stance and EU diplomats meeting in Brussels praised Warsaw, one of Ukraine’s closest friends and Russia’s fiercest foes, for its measured response.
After crisis talks in Brussels, Stoltenberg said an ongoing investigation was expected to find “that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks”.
“But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault,” he continued. “Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said NATO had ramped up its defences along its eastern flank in response to the war in Ukraine and denied that the alliance’s air defences had failed.
The NATO chief said Poland had not invoked Article 4 of the Western alliance’s treaty, which would have obliged members to discuss whether “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened”.
NATO’s most powerful member, the United States, has hundreds of troops in Poland and leads the West in supplying weapons to support Zelensky’s government in Kyiv.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said American experts were “on the ground” supporting the Polish investigation.
The Russian defence ministry said: “Photographs of the wreckage … were unequivocally identified by Russian military experts as fragments of a guided anti-aircraft missile of a Ukrainian S-300 air defence system”.
It insisted that its own strikes, a barrage of scores of missiles, “were carried out on targets only on the territory of Ukraine and at a distance of no closer than 35km from the Ukrainian-Polish border”.
The explosion rocked the village of Przewodow in eastern Poland at 1440 GMT on Tuesday.
“I’m scared. I didn’t sleep all night,” Anna Magus, a 60-year-old teacher at the local elementary school, told AFP near the scene.