US confirms Poland strike ‘likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile’

Pentagon Briefing Austin Milley
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, left, looks towards Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley as he speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) Kevin Wolf/AP

US confirms Poland strike ‘likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile’

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The Pentagon and National Security Council are in agreement with NATO and Polish authorities, who now believe the explosion that killed two people near its border with Ukraine came from a Ukrainian air defense missile.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley affirmed the United States’s view during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon following the seventh meeting of the Defense Contact Group, which includes foreign defense leaders who come together monthly to discuss the war, while National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson released a statement reiterating that stance. While they back Polish authorities’ initial findings, which are in line with Russia’s denials, they still put the ultimate blame for the errant explosion on the Kremlin for launching the missiles that put Ukraine in the position to need its air defense systems.

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“We’re still gathering information, but we have seen nothing that contradicts President [Andrzej] Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately ended in Poland,” Austin said. “Whatever the final conclusions may be, the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for the incident, which launched another barrage of missiles against Ukraine specifically intended to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.”

The U.S. is “assisting” the investigation and has “some experts on the ground helping,” he explained, though he declined to say he was confident that this was not a Russian missile and instead said they’re “going to let the investigation play out” when asked.

The missile fell into Przewodow, a rural village located about 4 miles from the Ukrainian border, around 3:40 p.m. local time on Tuesday, killing two people. The Ukrainian air defense system was initiated following a Russian missile barrage that targeted cities in various regions within Ukraine, the scope of which hadn’t been conducted in weeks.

Milley said their assessments are that it launched “at least 60 missiles” but that it could have been “upwards of 90 or even perhaps 100.”

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Immediately after the missile killed the two people in Poland, there were concerns that NATO, which Poland is a member of, would be dragged into the war. There were initial reports that the missile was of Russian origin, including some attributed to unnamed U.S. sources, but that has since been walked back.

“We again express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our condolences for the losses they suffered in these barbaric airstrikes. We know that millions more Ukrainians remain without power, water, and basic necessities as a result,” Watson’s statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out again to the loved ones of the two Polish citizens tragically killed.”

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