Poland’s ambassador to the United Nations said the country acted with “full restraint” after a suspected Russian missile struck inside its border on Tuesday, killing two Polish citizens and raising fears of an escalation in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Speaking to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday, Krzysztof Szczerski said Poland immediately launched a “comprehensive multi-phased investigation” into the incident, which Warsaw and NATO say was likely caused by a missile fired by Ukrainian forces defending their country against Russian attacks.
“Poland is also holding intensive consultations on the incident with its NATO allies and key partners,” he said, noting that the incident prompted Poland to increase the combat readiness of a unit of the armed forces focused on airspace surveillance .
Two farmers died when the rocket caused an explosion outside the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodow, some 4 miles west of the Ukrainian border.
Tuesday’s incident marks the first time a NATO country has been directly hit during the nearly nine-month conflict and prompted an emergency meeting of the US-led military alliance’s ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday.
Szczerski said the incident “shows us how close we really are to the potential escalation of Russia’s war of aggression spilling over into Ukraine, with far-reaching consequences that we can all perceive.”
He added that the two Polish victims “would not have been killed had it not been for a Russian war against Ukraine.”
“Their only flaw was the fact that they lived close to the civilian infrastructure on the Ukrainian side of the border, which Russia keeps attacking as a military target,” he said.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Russia bears “ultimate responsibility” for the incident “as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
The blast came around the same time Russia launched its biggest wave of rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities in more than a month, targeting mostly energy infrastructure.
The Polish ambassador reiterated his country’s early assessment that the incident appears to have been unintentional.
“Even the first findings support the hypothesis that the incident was not a premeditated attack. But of course we have to wait for the final result until the investigation is completed,” Szczerski told the UNSC.
Investigating the site where the missile landed will continue to be a joint operation with the United States, Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded that Ukrainian experts be allowed to enter the site.
The US National Security Council said it has “full confidence” in the Polish investigation into the blast and that the “ultimately responsible party” for the incident is Russia for its ongoing invasion.