Russia says missile strike in Poland caused by Ukrainian air defence

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Nov 16 (Reuters) – Russia said an explosion in Poland on Tuesday had been caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile and that Russian strikes in Ukraine had been no closer than 35 km (22 miles) from the Polish border.

Moscow said it had nothing to do with the blast, which killed two people, and summoned the Polish chargé d’affaires.

The Kremlin accused some Western countries on Wednesday, especially Poland, of reacting “hysterically”, but said the United States and President Joe Biden had shown restraint.

“The photos published in the evening of Nov. 15 in Poland of the wreckage found in the village of Przewodow are unequivocally identified by Russian defence industry specialists as elements of an anti-aircraft guided missile of the S-300 air defence system of the Ukrainian air force,” the Russian defence ministry said.

It was not possible to independently verify the images or the identification.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a number of countries had made “baseless statements” about Russia’s involvement “without having any idea of what had happened”.

“We have witnessed another hysterical, frenzied Russophobic reaction, which was not based on any real data,” Peskov told reporters.

But Peskov said Biden had shown “restraint” in his response. In his first comments, Biden said early assessments showed it was unlikely the missile had been fired from Russia.

“Once again, I want to invite you to pay attention to the rather restrained reaction of the Americans, which contrasted with the absolutely hysterical reaction of the Polish side and a number of other countries,” Peskov said.

“Why did this happen? You should probably put questions to Warsaw and ask Polish officials to be more restrained, more balanced and professional when they talk about such sensitive and potentially dangerous topics.”

A NATO source said Biden had informed Group of Seven and NATO partners that the blast in Poland, a NATO member, had been caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile.

Asked whether officials from Russia, the United States and NATO and had used an emergency hotline designed to prevent a nuclear escalation, Peskov said he was not aware of any calls having taken place.

Poland’s president said earlier that Warsaw had no concrete evidence to determine who fired the missile, which struck a grain facility some 6 km (4 miles) inside the border with Ukraine.

Russia’s defence ministry also said it had not targeted Kyiv during Tuesday’s widespread strikes. Reuters journalists in the city reported missile strikes, including on residential buildings, and power outages across the city in some of the heaviest attacks in the nine-month conflict.

In a statement after the Polish envoy’s visit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova complained that “despite the fact that it was night-time and the absence at that time of any reliable information about what happened, Warsaw considered it necessary to summon the Russian ambassador to the Polish Foreign Ministry and make a political show out of this”.

“The Russian side expects Warsaw to stop all kinds of anti-Russian speculation in connection with this incident,” she added.

(Reporting by Reuters)

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