Ukraine Latest: Poland, NATO Ease Fears Over Rocket Incident
Poland’s head of state said there’s no indication that an explosion late Tuesday near the country’s border with Ukraine was an intentional attack by Russia.
(Bloomberg) -- Poland’s head of state said there’s no indication that an explosion late Tuesday near the country’s border with Ukraine was an intentional attack by Russia, saying the incident was probably “an unfortunate accident” and a result of Ukrainian air-defense measures.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed the remarks from President Andrzej Duda, telling a news conference after chairing a meeting of the alliance in Brussels that there’s “no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO.” Preliminary analysis suggests that the explosion was likely caused by a Ukrainian rocket fired to repel Russian cruise-missile attacks, Stoltenberg said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier said the “astonishingly clear words” Group of 20 leaders agreed on in their joint statement Wednesday showed that Vladimir Putin is increasingly isolated over the war. “The Russian president is almost alone in the world with his policy and has no strong alliance partner,” Scholz told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali.
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On the Ground
Russian forces conducted the largest set of missile strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure since the start of the war on Tuesday, according to the latest report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. The Russian military likely used a substantial portion of its remaining high-precision weapon systems in the coordinated missile strikes, the ISW said.
(All times CET)
NATO Defends Anti-Air Systems Protecting Its Territory (1:36 p.m.)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg defended the alliance’s air defense systems after what he said was an errant missile shot down by Ukrainian systems landed in Poland.
The alliance’s air defense systems are designed to prevent attacks, with different missiles having specific characteristics. The cruise missile that landed in Poland didn’t have those traits, he told reporters in Brussels.
“That explains why the reactions were as they were,” Stoltenberg said. “It doesn’t say anything about our ability to defend against deliberate attacks against NATO territory.”
Rocket Comments Chime With Biden’s (12:35 p.m.)
The comments from Duda and Stoltenberg appeared to confirm an earlier assessment from US President Joe Biden, who told allies at the G-20 that the explosion, which killed at least two people, was caused by Kyiv’s air defenses, according to two officials familiar with the matter.
Biden still said the strike was ultimately sparked by Tuesday’s Russian missile barrage on Ukraine. He delivered the assessment during a conversation with NATO and other allies, said the officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
Germany Offers to Intensify Air Patrols (11:45 a.m.)
A spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Berlin said Germany has offered to reinforce air-policing patrols over Poland starting already on Thursday if requested by the government in Warsaw.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht will discuss the offer with her Polish counterpart later on Wednesday, the spokesman said at a regular news conference. The patrols can be conducted from German bases, he added.
Kremlin Praises ‘Restrained’ US Reaction (11:30 a.m.)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov praised the US for what he called its “restrained” and “professional” reaction to reports of the Polish explosion, dismissing allegations that it was caused by a Russian missile as “hysterical.”
US officials were cautious in identifying the cause of the explosion pending a fuller investigation.
China Calls for Restraint (10:25)
China is aware of reports of a missile strike in Poland, foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular briefing. She urged all relevant parties to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation of the situation.
Sweden Supplies Ukraine With Air Defense (8:45 a.m.)
Sweden unveiled its largest aid package to Ukraine to date, including 3 billion kronor ($290 million) in military assistance and 720 million kronor in humanitarian aid.
The package includes an air-defense system and ammunition, Defense Minister Pal Jonson and Foreign Trade Minister Johan Forssell told reporters in Stockholm.
Ukraine’s Power Infrastructure Recovering (8:20 a.m.)
Utility services are gradually resuming in Ukraine’s regions and major cities after damage inflicted by Russia’s missile barrage on Tuesday.
Water and heating are being supplied to customers as usual, while power has been restored in the country’s capital Kyiv after almost half of its inhabitants were cut off, local military authorities said.
Poland Says Ukraine Uses Same Type of Rocket (8 a.m.)
Ukraine also deploys the type of Russian-made missile that landed in Polish territory on Tuesday, according to Agnieszka Scigaj, a minister in the prime minister’s office in Warsaw.
Scigaj told broadcaster TVN24 that so far there’s only evidence of a single rocket landing on Polish soil near the Ukrainian border after initial reports pointed to two strikes. Scigaj said the investigation is ongoing and it’s still not clear who fired the missile.
Most G-20 Leaders Condemn War (7:30 a.m.)
A majority of G-20 nations condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to a joint declaration issued Wednesday after a summit that suggested Putin’s government is becoming more isolated.
“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy -- constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks,” G-20 leaders said.
Blinken Refers to ‘Explosion in Poland’ (7 a.m.)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he discussed the rocket incident -- which he called “the explosion in eastern Poland” -- with his Polish and Ukrainian counterparts.
“We pledged to remain closely coordinated in the days ahead as the investigation proceeds and we determine appropriate next steps,” Blinken said in a tweet.
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