- Zelenskyy on Wednesday rejected the notion a Ukrainian missile killed two people in Poland.
- “I have no doubt that it was not our missile,” Zelenskyy said.
- Poland and NATO concluded that the deaths were probably due to a Ukrainian missile that went astray.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday refuted assessments from Poland, NATO, and Western governments suggesting a Ukrainian air defense missile accidentally landed in Polish territory and killed two people.
“I have no doubt that it was not our missile,” Zelenskyy told Ukrainian media, per Reuters. The Ukrainian leader also said Ukraine had a right to be a part of the team investigating the incident.
The day prior, Zelenskyy explicitly blamed Russia for the deadly strike, calling it a “significant escalation” in the war. Western officials took a far more cautious approach as more information was gathered.
On Wednesday, both Poland and NATO said that the fatal explosion was probably a result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that went astray.
“From the information that we and our allies have, it was an S-300 rocket made in the Soviet Union, an old rocket, and there is no evidence that it was launched by the Russian side,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said. “It is highly probable that it was fired by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defence.”
Duda said that there was nothing to suggest that it was an intentional attack, referring to the incident as an “unfortunate accident.”
Similarly, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had no indication that deaths were the result of a “deliberate attack.”
“We have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO,” Stoltenberg said, adding, “Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks.”
But the NATO chief also did not let Russia off the hook.
“Let me clear: this is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
The White House echoed these assessments on Wednesday.
“We have seen nothing that contradicts President Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
After the news of the deadly explosion first emerged, there were serious concerns about the potential for a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO, but those worries have eased after Poland and other countries assessed that the incident was not a case of Russia deliberately attacking a NATO country.
That said, there are signs that the Ukrainian government’s approach to the incident could erode its credibility at a crucial moment in the war, as Ukrainian forces make progress in their counteroffensive with the help of aid from Western countries.