President Joe Biden convened an emergency meeting of world leaders after an explosion in eastern Poland, near the Ukrainian border, killed two Polish citizens on Tuesday. The cause of the explosion was a rocket or rocket parts that crossed into Poland, but the source of the shell remained unclear.
Biden told reporters in Bali, Indonesia, where he was attending the G20 summit, that it was “unlikely” the missile was launched from Russia, based on its trajectory. But the president added that an investigation is underway, and “we’ll see.”
He described the continuation of Russiawhich rose on Tuesday, was “totally unreasonable,” and noted that “dozens and dozens” of missiles had hit the country as leaders gathered at the G20 summit and called for a de-escalation in the nearly nine-month war.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said earlier that the missile that fell in the Polish village of Przyudov was Russian-made, but President Andrzej Duda was cautious about its origin, saying officials did not know for sure who launched it or where it was made. He said it was “probably” Russian-made, but still verified. Both Russia and Ukraine relied on stockpiles of Soviet-era Russian missiles during the war.
“We act calmly,” Duda said. “This is a difficult situation.”
Mr. Biden’s meeting, early Wednesday in Bali, included German Chancellor Olaf Schultz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. European Union President Ursula von der Leyen and European Commission President Charles Michel.
After the missile fell, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau demanded an “immediate and detailed explanation” from Russia, according to a statement from the Polish Foreign Ministry.
Poland also indicated that the incident occurred in “another intense bombardment that lasted for hours on the entire territory of Ukraine and its vital infrastructure by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”
However, the statement did not address the circumstances of the strike, including whether it could have been a targeting error or if the missile was derailed by Ukrainian defences. A NATO statement described the incident as “tragic”. Earlier, a senior US intelligence official said that Russian missiles had crossed the border into Poland, but Poland’s statement said it was a single missile.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the government was investigating and raising the level of its military readiness.
The Russian Ministry of Defense denied responsibility for the incident, insisting that “no strikes were conducted against targets near the borders of the Ukrainian-Polish state by Russian means of destruction”.
In their statements, Poland and NATO used language that indicated they were not treating the explosion as a Russian attack, at least for now.
If Russia deliberately targeted Poland, it would risk drawing the 30-nation NATO alliance into the conflict.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency meeting Wednesday for the alliance’s envoys to discuss the event, and Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergey Kislitsya, told CBS News he expected to discuss the incident at a previously scheduled UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday. Ukraine on Wednesday too.
President Biden was briefed on the incident and spoke on the phone with Duda of Poland from Bali. According to the reciting of the call, Mr. Biden offered the United States’ full support and assistance in Poland’s investigation, and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to NATO. The two leaders agreed to remain in close contact as the investigation began.
The National Security Council said in a statement The United States is “working with the Polish government to gather more information,” and will “determine what happened and what are the appropriate next steps.”
Russia bombarded Ukrainian energy facilities on Tuesday with its largest barrage of missiles yet, hitting targets across the country and causing widespread power outages. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shook his fist and declared, “We will survive it all.”
Russia has launched at least 85 missiles, “mostly at our energy infrastructure,” Zelensky said, and turned off electricity in many cities.
The air attack, which killed at least one person in an apartment building in the capital Kyiv, follows days of euphoria in Ukraine sparked by one of its biggest military successes –.
The power grid was already damaged from previous attacks that destroyed an estimated 40% of the country’s power infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not commented on the withdrawal from Kherson since his forces withdrew in the face of a Ukrainian attack. But the staggering scale of Tuesday’s strikes showed plenty and hinted at the anger in the Kremlin.
By striking targets in the late afternoon, shortly before dusk set in, the Russian military forced Ukrainian rescue workers to work in the dark and gave repair crews little time to assess damage by daylight.
More than a dozen regions—among them Lviv in the west, Kharkiv in the northeast and others—reported strikes or efforts by their air defenses to shoot down the missiles. At least a dozen regions reported power outages, affecting cities that together are home to millions of people. The authorities said that nearly half of the Kyiv region lost power. Ukrainian Railways announced train delays across the country.
Zelensky warned of the possibility of further strikes, urging people to stay safe and seek shelter.
Eleanor Watson, Ed O’Keefe, Camila Schick and Pam Falk contributed to this report.
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