A missile strike which killed two people in eastern Poland on Tuesday was not deliberate, both that country's president, Andrzej Duda, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg say.
President Duda says that the missile was likely an S-300 type – a missile series first built by the Soviet Union and in current use by both Ukrainian and Russian forces – adding there was no evidence it was fired by Russian forces, nor that it had intentionally targeted Poland.
The missile landed in the village of Przewodów, just a few kilometers from the Polish-Ukrainian border.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has added that triggering NATO Article 4, referring to consultations between member states, may not be necessary, ERR reports, citing Reuters.
However, Poland is to continue to conduct investigations in case anything more comes to light which affects that decision.
PM @MorawieckiM: Ukrainian forces, countering a massive Russian attack, launched their missiles yesterday to shoot down Russian missiles. There are many indications that one of these missiles fell on Polish territory without any intention on either side. pic.twitter.com/9Dm7jq3aU1— Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (@PremierRP_en) November 16, 2022
NATO Secretary General: Missile falling on Poland was not a deliberate act
NATO member states' senior representatives also met on Wednesday at 11.00 a.m. to discuss the matter further.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg concurred that investigations have provided evidence that the missile had strayed into Polish territory after being deployed by Ukrainian forces, who were under heavy and constant attack in the West of the country at the time, adding Ukraine was not culpable.
Speaking at a press conference after Wednesday's meeting, Stoltenberg said: "This is not Ukraine's fault. It is the fault of Russia, which continues in its illegal war against Ukraine."
Ukraine has the right to down any missiles fired at it, the secretary general added, while the incident did not say anything one way or another about NATO member states' own air defense systems, mainly because their early warning systems monitor missiles which demonstrate signs of likely attack – which he said was absent in this case.
At least one NATO plane in any case had tracked the missile's trajectory, which also provided evidence that it had not been fired from inside Russia itself.
NATO's priority is now the additional supply of air defense systems to Ukraine, Stoltenberg added, while the best way to avoid such incidents in the future is for Russia to end its war in Ukraine, he said.
Of other member states, Germany has said that strengthened air defenses are necessary, but no escalation should take place, meaning a no-fly zone over Ukraine is off the cards.
Wednesday's NATO meeting did not take place within the framework of Article 4, a German foreign ministry spokesperson added.
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, who recently visited Estonia, also told Reuters that it was: "Only natural that a proposal to strengthen the air defense of the countries on the border will likely be put on the table," following the incident.
Meanwhile Belgium's Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder announced on her social media account on Wednesday morning that the incident in Poland involved fragments of both a Russian missile and a Ukrainian missile, implying the latter was intercepting the former.
Based on current information, the strikes in #Poland seem to be a result of Ukrainian air defense. Pieces of Russian missiles and a Ukrainian interception missile are said to have landed in Poland. To be confirmed by ongoing investigations.— Ludivine Dedonder (@DedonderLudivin) November 16, 2022
Estonia's defense minister, Hanno Pevkur, had earlier on Wednesday also said the missile in question may well have been an S-300.
The missile strike also prompted an emergency G7 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, involving POTUS Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and the heads of government of the other G7 nations, all of whom were attending the G20 summit there.
President Biden said at that time he thought it unlikely the missile had been fired from inside the Russian Federation, due to its trajectory.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karl Kivil, Allan Aksiim