Missile striking Poland 'unlikely' to have been fired by Russia, Biden says

Missile striking Poland 'unlikely' to have been fired by Russia, Biden says
Credit: Office of the President of the United States / Creative Commons

US President Joe Biden has said that preliminary information suggests that it is "unlikely" that the missile that landed in a Polish village on the border with Ukraine on Tuesday night was fired by Russia.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Biden said: "There is preliminary information that contests [that Russia fired the missile]. I don’t want to say [who fired it] until we completely investigate. But it is unlikely... that it was fired from Russia."

Biden's caution about attributing blame to Russia was corroborated by an Associated Press report released in the early hours of Wednesday morning, claiming that the blast, which killed two people, was caused by a missile fired by Ukrainian forces attempting to shoot down an incoming Russian rocket.

World leaders call for restraint

Echoing Biden's comments, numerous other world leaders similarly urged restraint until the facts about who fired the missile are conclusively established.

A spokesperson for French President Emmanuel Macron urged "utmost caution" among NATO members, adding: "Many countries have the same kind of weapons, so identifying the type of missile won't necessarily identify who is behind it."

Similarly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who has functioned as something of a go-between between Ukraine and Russia since the latter launched its full-scale invasion of the former in February this year — urged all sides to exercise caution, and called for Ukraine and Russia to be "put ... at the same negotiating table".

"The path to peace lies through dialogue," Erdoğan said.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also urged his fellow Poles to remain calm. "I am calling on all Poles to remain calm in the face of this tragedy," Morawiecki said. "Let's be considerate and let's not be manipulated."

NATO's Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, also called for restraint on Twitter, claiming that it is "important that all facts are established".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, however, was adamant that "terrorist Russia" was to blame for firing the missile.

Russia has vehemently denied the accusations that it launched the rocket, with its state media blaming Ukraine for the attack.

What next?

NATO is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting at 10:00 CET, while Poland's National Security Council is planning to meet at 11:00 CET.

Initial reports from NATO officials suggest that Poland will not trigger Article 4 of the NATO Treaty. In the event that they do, "the [NATO] Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened".

In a worst case scenario, Poland could also trigger the significantly more escalatory Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, according to which an attack on one member is construed as an attack on all. This could potentially draw NATO into the war in Ukraine and, in doing so, bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia.

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