Ukraine is at odds with its Western backers over the missile that landed in Poland and killed two people. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that he’s confident the missile didn’t come from his country even after NATO, Poland, and the US said it was likely fired by Ukrainian air defenses.
“I have no doubt that it was not our rocket,” Zelensky told reporters, adding that his assessment was based on reports from his military commanders. “I believe that it was a Russian missile based on the credibility of the reports of the military,” he said.
Zelensky also called for Ukraine to be allowed to conduct its own investigation. “Can we not say the final conclusions? Do we have the right to be in the investigation team? Of course,” he said.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a diplomat from a NATO country expressed frustration in response to Zelensky’s comments. “This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile,” the diplomat said.
When news of the missile hitting Poland first broke, Zelensky and his top advisors framed the incident as a deliberate Russian attack on a NATO member, and implied that the military alliance should take action. Any NATO strikes on Russia would mean World War III, which could quickly spiral into nuclear war.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba even 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 on Tuesday.
But the following day, NATO confirmed that it was likely a Ukrainian missile. “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,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
Poland reached a similar conclusion, and the US said it hadn’t seen any evidence to contradict that it was a Ukrainian missile. The missile landed in Poland as Russia was launching massive strikes across Ukraine targeting infrastructure. While they recognize it was a Ukrainian missile, NATO and the US say that Russia “bears ultimate responsibility,” but there’s no sign there will be an escalation, and Stoltenberg said he sees no threats from Russia.
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.