Explosion in Poland could not be due to missile fired from Russia, says Biden


© Reuters. A sign announcing the G20 summit is pictured in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

By Nandita Bose and Trevor Hunnicutt

BALI (Reuters) – The United States and its NATO allies are investigating an explosion that killed two people in Poland, but initial information suggests it was not caused by a missile fired from Russia, U.S. President Joe Biden said.

Biden, speaking after world leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, held an emergency meeting Wednesday after a deadly explosion in Przewodow, a village in eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Polish authorities said the blasts, which killed two, were caused by Russian missiles.

Asked if it was too early to say any missiles had been fired from Russia, Biden said the trajectory indicated otherwise.

“There is preliminary information that contradicts that,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to say until we fully investigate it, but it’s unlikely … that it was fired from Russia, but we’ll see.”

The US and NATO countries would investigate fully before taking action, he added.

The statement left open a number of questions, including whether Biden meant that Russia was probably not to blame for the bombing. The White House did not immediately clarify the comments.

Biden, however, condemned Russia for escalating missile attacks inside Ukraine, calling the recent attacks and civilian casualties “absolutely unconscionable.”

The emergency meeting was called by Biden, the White House said.

“We agreed to support Poland’s investigation into the explosion in rural Poland, near the Ukrainian border, and they’re going to make sure we find out exactly what happened,” Biden said.

“And then we’re going to collectively decide our next step as we investigate and move forward. There was complete consensus among the people at the table.”

A White House official later said Biden would support the process, though not necessarily the results, of the Polish investigation.

Leaders from Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom also took part in the meeting with Biden.

All but Japan are members of NATO, the defense alliance that also includes Poland.

A decision that Moscow was to blame for the blast could trigger NATO’s principle of collective defence, known as Article 5, under which an attack on one member of the Western alliance is considered an attack on all, and open discussions about a possible military response.

The Poles have said they are verifying whether they need to request consultations under the alliance’s Article 4, which allows NATO members to bring any concerns, especially security issues, to the North Atlantic Council for discussion.

The Poles summoned Russia’s ambassador to Warsaw for an explanation after Moscow denied they were responsible.

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