What we know about the missile that hit Poland

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When news broke on Tuesday that a missile had crossed into Poland and killed two people, fingers quickly pointed to Russia. 

However, initial assessments from Poland and NATO suggest that it was actually a Ukrainian air defense missile that struck four miles from the border in the Polish village of Przewodów. 

Following a meeting of NATO ambassadors on Wednesday, the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said investigations pointed to an accident as Ukraine was trying to defend itself from a Russian aerial barrage. 

“This is not Ukraine’s fault; Russia bears ultimate responsibility,” Stoltenberg said. “The whole incident is caused by Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin struck a similar tone at a press conference Wednesday. 

“We’re still gathering information, but we have seen nothing that contradicts [Polish President Andrzej Duda’s] preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland” he said. 

“Whatever the final conclusions may be, the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident,” he added. 

News outlets — including The Hill — reported Tuesday that Russia fired the missile that fell into Russia, citing an Associated Press report based on a U.S. intelligence source. 

Ukraine also quickly blamed Russia, with Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelensky calling the explosion in Poland a “really significant escalation” in the war. 

“Hitting NATO territory with missiles. … This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed,” Zelensky said in a video address Tuesday. 

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for an urgent NATO summit, and additional western air defenses and even fighter jets to counter Russia’s threat to the region. 

However, Russia denied firing any missiles near the border soon after the reports initially emerged, calling any statement to the contrary a “deliberate provocation.”

The incident occurred as Russia pounded Ukraine with missiles on Tuesday, hitting civilian targets and energy infrastructure ahead of winter. The attacks also downed power lines that supply electricity to Moldova, causing power outages in that country. 

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Facebook that Tuesday’s barrage on Ukraine’s energy facilities was “the most massive” since the start of the war.

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