Ukraine reacts as initial findings suggest it fired the missile that hit Poland


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes a surprise visit to Kherson on November 14, 2022 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Paula Bronstein | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s defense ministry responded cautiously to reports suggesting its own armed forces fired a missile that hit Poland, killing two people, saying the problem was “very sensitive” as more details emerge concerning the incident.

Early Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported, citing three unnamed U.S. officials, that preliminary assessments indicated “the missile that struck Poland had been fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile.”

Other media agencies, including NBC News, cited similar details on Wednesday; Reuters reported a NATO source as saying President Joe Biden had told the G-7 and NATO partners that the strike was attributable to “a Ukrainian air defense missile,” while the Wall Street Journal cited two senior Western officials briefed on the preliminary U.S. assessments as saying the missile was from a Ukrainian air-defense system.

Ukraine’s ministry was cautious about that initial assessment as investigations continued and NATO prepared to satisfy in an emergency session in Brussels on Wednesday.

Late Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said it’s “unlikely” the missile that killed two people in Poland was fired from Russia, citing the trajectory of the rocket. President Andrzej Duda of Poland said Tuesday night that his government didn’t yet conclusively know who fired a missile that struck Polish territory.

Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told CNBC that Kyiv welcomed a radical investigation of the incident, but said the problem was “very sensitive.”

“It is simply too early to provide any definitive answers and it’s extremely dangerous to leap to any conclusions,” Sak said Wednesday morning.

“I would love to only stress once more that straight away, the president of Poland has said that there are not any conclusive evidence of what exactly has happened. [U.S. President] Joe Biden, when he was making his comment, he was also cautious because everybody understands that it is a very sensitive issue,” he said.

“Before any conclusions are made, an investigation should be done. So, that’s where we stand,” he said.

Police run a check point outside the scene in Przewodow, Poland, where authorities in Warsaw say a Russian-made missile struck its territory, killing two civilians.

Omar Marques | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Tuesday night’s incident got here after Ukraine suffered a wave of missile strikes by Russia with one Ukrainian official saying over 90 missiles were fired on the country. The attacks knocked out energy infrastructure across Ukraine, reportedly leaving 7 million people without power.

For its part, Ukraine blamed Russia for the missile that hit Poland last night, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly telling his Polish counterpart that it was “a rocket launched from the territory of the Russian Federation.” Russia said it had not fired the missile and called it a “deliberate provocation to be able to escalate the situation.”

Ukrainian defense official Yuriy Sak told CNBC that Ukraine’s international allies must have responded to Kyiv’s repeated requests for them to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

NATO refused to do this early within the war, fearing it might be dragged right into a direct conflict with nuclear power Russia.

“What we wish to emphasize is that if there was no invasion of Ukraine, yesterday wouldn’t have happened. If the Ukrainian sky would have been closed at our request by our allies, this could not have happened,” Sak said, echoing comments by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who said Wednesday morning that “none of this could be happening if it wasn’t for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Sak said it was crucial that the missile incident didn’t distract from Ukraine’s defense needs.

“It is vitally necessary that we do not shift the main focus now and that we proceed to debate the choices for further closing the Ukrainian sky, providing Ukraine with efficient air defense systems, because what must occur is that we want to all collectively be certain that that such tragic incidents as yesterday don’t occur again,” he said.

World leaders hold an emergency meeting in Bali to debate the explosion on Polish territory. Shown are U.S. President Joe Biden (C), U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japan Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Ludovic Marin | AFP | Getty Images

As a flurry of urgent and high-level diplomatic talks are happening amongst NATO members on Wednesday, defense analysts suggested that, whether Russia fired the missile or not, it bears so much responsibility for the attack.

“Russia is to a point culpable regardless, since it’s firing missiles on civilian infrastructure targets, and firing them dangerously near NATO territory and the Ukrainian-Polish border, and Ukraine must defend itself,” Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst and associate fellow on the Royal United Services Institute defense think tank, told CNBC Wednesday.

“However it will not be that Russia intentionally targeted Poland, and it may very well be Ukraine doing it. So straight away, I feel we want an investigation to work out what’s really happening.”

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