Ambassador: Missile incident has no impact on NATO-Ukraine relations
Even if the missile that hit Poland on Tuesday afternoon was fired by Ukraine, blame falls on Russia and its war of aggression, which is why the incident does nothing to harm Ukraine-NATO relations, Estonia's NATO Ambassador Jüri Luik said.
"As said, we do not yet know where it came from. But even if it was a stray missile tied to Ukraine defending itself against Russian invaders and the overwhelming missile barrage they unleashed, it was clearly an accident or technical glitch, which in no way undermines relations between NATO Allies and Ukraine," Luik told ERR in Brussels on Wednesday.
"As we've said, assistance for Ukraine will be retained in full, and the more quality Western anti-aircraft weapons we send to Ukraine, the more effective they will be at destroying Russian missiles," the ambassador added after a North Atlantic Council meeting to discuss the incident.
Estonia's permanent representative said that the investigation is ongoing and no final conclusions can be drawn yet. "But it is clearly a random incident, not an attempt to target NATO territory," he added.
"We will have certainty once the investigation is concluded. That is why today's NAC meeting was quite relaxed. What I took away were efforts to underscore that the incident was Russia's fault, that of the Russian leadership, and that assistance for Ukraine must continue in recent volume or be ramped up. The conclusions drawn were the right ones and entirely appropriate," the ambassador said.
"It is clear that whoever owned that particular missile, Russia and its full-scale aggression against neighbor Ukraine, with massive bombing of civilian infrastructure as one part of it, is at fault. Over 100 missiles were fired at Ukraine yesterday, meaning that it's clear who is responsible for that missile [landing in Poland] irrespective of who owned it," Luik added.
The ambassador said that all NATO forces are convinced this was a random incident and see no risk of a wider attack following in its wake or the possibility of it being repeated, which is why launching additional consultations for NATO Article 4 was deemed unnecessary.
"This does not mean consultations have ended at the NAC meeting and later today and tomorrow. I believe it will soon be ascertained where the missile came from and whose it was. I cannot see the investigation taking long," Luik added.
Asked whether NATO would be willing to protect a part of the western Ukrainian airspace to make sure no other missile could stay into the alliance's territory, Luik said there are no such plans.
"We have no plans for any NATO steps in Ukraine. I cannot join such speculation," the ambassador said.
The North Atlantic Council that brings together NATO ambassadors met on Wednesday to discuss the Tuesday incident where a missile hit a Polish village some miles from the Ukrainian border killing two people. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the head of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SACEUR) and intelligence representatives also attended the meeting.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski