Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in separate remarks on Wednesday that the deadly blast on Polish territory near its border with Ukraine was most likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile rather than one fired by Russian forces.
Duda said that there’s “no indication that this was an intentional attack on Poland,” according to a statement on Twitter by his office.
He added that the missile that landed near the Polish town of Przewodow, killing two and stoking fears that the Russia-Ukraine conflict could escalate and pull NATO into the war, was most likely a Russian-made S-300.
Missiles of this type are used by Ukraine as part of its air defense system, which was active amid a barrage of Russian missile strikes in western Ukraine.
“We have no evidence at this time that this missile was fired by Russian forces,” Duda continued, adding that “there are many indications that the missile came from [Ukraine’s] air defense, which unfortunately fell on Polish territory.”
Speaking in Brussels after an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors, the alliance’s chief echoed Duda’s remarks, saying that the blast was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile.
Stoltenberg added, however, that he does not consider the explosion to be “Ukraine’s fault” as Russia is “responsible for the war that has caused this situation.”
Russia has denied involvement in the blast, with the Russian Defense Ministry issuing a statement saying it hadn’t carried out any strikes against targets near the Ukrainian-Polish border, alleging that claims to the contrary were “deliberate provocations.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quick to blame Russia for the incident, posting a video on the website of the Office of the President, in which he called it a “Russian missile attack on collective security” and a “very significant escalation.”
The NATO chief said there was no indication that Russia was preparing any offensive military action against NATO, which includes Poland as one of its members.
The explosion on Polish territory came as Russia unleashed a barrage of missile strikes on Ukraine, targeting energy infrastructure in the country and causing widespread power outages.
Russia’s defense ministry said its strikes on Ukraine on Tuesday were no closer than 22 miles from the Polish border, the RIA news agency reported.
Following the blast, there was initial speculation that Poland might invoke NATO’s article 4, which provides for consultations among allies in the face of a threat to security. But in light of the evidence, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a statement that the move is uncalled for.
“Most of the evidence collected thus far indicates that invoking article 4 won’t be necessary,” he said.
The explosion sparked global alarm that the Russia-Ukraine conflict might spill over into other countries.