Poland’s president and the leader of NATO both said on Wednesday that Ukrainian air defenses, not Russia, likely fired the missile that hit Polish territory on Tuesday, killing two people.
“We have no evidence at the moment that it was a rocket launched by Russian forces,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said. “However, there are many indications that it was a missile that was used by Ukraine’s antimissile defense.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance had no indication the incident was a deliberate attack. “Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks,” he said.
The missile landed outside of a village in Poland Tuesday near the Polish-Ukrainian border while Russia was launching strikes across Ukraine targeting energy infrastructure. Stoltenberg said that while a Ukrainian missile hit Poland, Russia still “bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
Since Poland is a NATO member, the missile landing on its territory raised concerns about Warsaw looking to invoke Article 5, which states an attack on one member is an attack on all. But since the consensus is that it was a Ukrainian missile, it’s unlikely there will be an escalation.
Poland was considering calling consultations with NATO allies on the incident under Article 4, but Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that probably won’t be necessary. “Most of the evidence that we have collected so far shows that there will probably be no need to invoke Article 4 this time,” he said.
After the news first broke that a munition fell on Poland, a US intelligence official told The Associated Press that it was a Russian missile. Russia quickly issued a denial, but high-level Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, framed the incident as a deliberate Russian attack and implied NATO should respond.
“Hitting NATO territory with missiles. … This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed,” Zelensky said during his nightly address on Tuesday.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelensky, said on Twitter that the strike on Polish territory was not an “accident” but a “deliberate ‘hello'” from Russian forces. “It happens when evil goes unpunished & politicians engage in ‘pacification’ of aggressor. Ru-terrorist regime must be stopped,” he wrote.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the idea that a Ukrainian missile hit Poland was a “conspiracy theory” being spread by Russia. “Russia now promotes a conspiracy theory that it was allegedly a missile of Ukrainian air defense that fell on the Polish theory. Which is not true. No one should buy Russian propaganda or amplify its messages,” he wrote on Twitter.