TASS, November 16. A missile that fell on Tuesday in Poland's Przewodow was fired from a Ukrainian S-300 air defense system, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. This version was also accepted by the West, which initially made harsh anti-Russian statements in connection with the incident.
Although US President Joe Biden and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, voiced the version that the missile came from Ukraine, the NATO chief still put the responsibility on Russia: according to him, it was Moscow's actions that caused the incident.
TASS gathered the latest information on the incident in Poland.
The first to report about the fall of two projectiles in the village of Przewodow in eastern Poland was the Polish Radio ZET, who cited unofficial sources. According to its data, two people died as a result of the incident, while the origin of the missiles was not specified.
Later, the Polish Foreign Ministry said that it was one Russian missile. Polish President Andrzej Duda said that "most likely, it was a Russian-made rocket," but an investigation would have to be held to determine its origin.
However, on Wednesday morning reports had already appeared in the West that the fallen projectile was, in fact, Ukrainian. The Associated Press reported this, citing US administration officials, who noted that Ukraine's air defense systems were trying to intercept the Russian missile. The Wall Street Journal also wrote about the Ukrainian origin of the projectile, citing two senior Western officials familiar with preliminary US assessments.
Biden, a NATO source told Reuters, informed the leaders of the G7 and NATO that the incident in Poland was caused by an anti-aircraft missile from Ukraine. After an emergency meeting in Bali, the US president said the rocket was "unlikely" to have been fired from Russia.
On Wednesday afternoon, Duda also confirmed that there was no evidence in favor of the projectile’s Russian origin and that the missile was most likely indeed launched from a Ukrainian air defense system. As the Polish president noted, there was no information indicating that the incident was a deliberate attack.
The Russian armed forces on Tuesday carried out high-precision strikes against targets exclusively on Ukrainian territory and no closer than 35 kilometers from the border with Poland, the Russian Defense Ministry said. According to the ministry, all Russian missiles hit their targets accurately, and claims that they fell in Poland are nothing but a "deliberate provocation". The ministry also stressed that experts identified the debris in the published pictures from the Polish territory as parts of S-300 missiles.
The incident in Poland is not "a reason for escalation," Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. He slammed statements by a number of European politicians as "another hysterical Russophobic reaction" and gave the example of a more restrained and professional reaction by the American side.
After the incident, Poland decided to increase the combat readiness of some military units in the country and put all key services, including special services, on high alert.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said that Warsaw could invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which provides for consultations if a NATO member country considers that the "territorial integrity, political independence or security" of one of the alliance states is "threatened." Poland's envoy to NATO, Tomasz Szatkowski, later said there were no grounds for invoking this article.
Warsaw had already invited international experts, including representatives from the US and Ukraine, to investigate the incident.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau summoned Russian envoy Sergey Andreev on Wednesday, presented him with a diplomatic note and demanded an explanation of the situation. Warsaw, the ministry clarified, was trying to preserve the possibility of communication, but did not rule out the expulsion of the Russian diplomat in the future.
The Polish Armed Forces General Command, when asked why the national air defense system did not work, pointed out that no army had an air defense system capable of protecting the entire territory of the country.
NATO, which convened an emergency meeting of the NATO Council at the ambassadorial level because of the incident, also agreed that it was a Ukrainian missile that fell in Poland. However, as Stoltenberg said, it was not Kiev's fault: responsibility lies with Moscow, since the activation of the air defense system in Ukraine was a "direct result" of Russian actions.
NATO has no reason to believe that Russia is "preparing offensive military actions against NATO," the Secretary General stressed. At the same time, he expressed readiness to deploy additional air defense forces in Poland, if necessary.
Stoltenberg did not answer the reporters’ question on whether NATO’s air defense system had detected the missile flying over the Polish territory and did not say whether the incident was the result of a miss of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft system. Stoltenberg pointed out that after the investigation was completed, NATO would decide which parts of it can be made public.
The West will collectively determine what further steps should be taken, following an investigation into the incident, Biden said after an emergency meeting in Bali.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for avoiding escalation and hoped for a thorough investigation of the incident. Similar statements were made by Germany and France.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara believed that Moscow had nothing to do with the incident. He drew attention to statements from both the Russian side and Western leaders.