Biden says it’s “unlikely” the missile that hit Poland was fired from Russia

Updated November 15, 2022 at 9:25pm ET

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, and KYIV, Ukraine — President Biden said it was “unlikely” that a missile that caused an explosion in eastern Poland was launched by Russia, but he said the information was “preliminary” and Poland’s allies would become a full support assist determination.

The blast came as Russia unleashed a wave of missile attacks on cities across Ukraine on Tuesday, hitting residential buildings and cutting power in urban areas. In neighboring Poland, two people were killed in an explosion at a grain processing plant just a few kilometers from the border with western Ukraine.

In a late night press release, Poland’s foreign ministry said a “Russian-made missile was dropped on the village of Przewodów” and summoned the Russian ambassador to demand an “immediate and detailed explanation.”

Earlier, according to a government spokesman, the Polish government held an emergency meeting to deal with a “crisis situation” and planned to invoke Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which allows member countries to “consult together” should the “territorial integrity, political independence or security” of any of them may be threatened.

Russia, meanwhile, said any suggestion that its guns had hit Poland was a “deliberate provocation”.

President Biden gathered G-7 leaders for an emergency meeting to discuss the blast.  You were in Bali for the G-20 summit.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

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AFP via Getty Images

President Biden gathered G-7 leaders for an emergency meeting to discuss the blast. You were in Bali for the G-20 summit.

Biden calls an emergency meeting in Bali

The strikes came as world leaders gathered for the G-20 summit in Bali.

President Biden assembled a small group — the leaders of the G-7, the European Union, and the European Commission — for an emergency meeting on the blast in Poland.

After that, Biden was asked if the missile came from Russia.

“There is preliminary information that disputes that,” Biden said. “I don’t want to say that until we’ve fully investigated it. But it’s unlikely … it was fired from Russia,” Biden said, citing the “trajectory.”

“But we’ll see,” he said.

Biden had previously spoken to Polish President Andrzej Duda and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the phone. In his conversation with Duda, the White House said he reaffirmed the “iron commitment of the US to NATO”.

Biden said he briefed leaders on the calls, and they agreed to assist Poland with his investigation. “I’m going to make sure we find out exactly what happened,” he said.

He also condemned the attacks on Ukraine, calling them “completely unscrupulous” and saying the United States would do everything it could to support Ukraine.

President Biden speaks to reporters after the emergency meeting he called on the situation in Poland.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

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AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaks to reporters after the emergency meeting he called on the situation in Poland.

Ukraine says Russia fired about 100 missiles

In Ukraine, the Air Force said Russia fired about 100 rockets into Ukraine over several hours Tuesday afternoon and evening.

“Does anyone seriously believe that the Kremlin really wants peace?” Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Twitter. “She wants obedience. But in the end, terrorists always lose.”

The attacks came a day after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution holding Russia accountable and obliged to pay reparations for the war it is waging in Ukraine. And just last Friday, Russia suffered a major military setback when it was forced to withdraw from the strategically important southern city of Kherson.

Ukraine said it shot down about 70 of the 100 incoming missiles, but others hit their targets in the capital Kyiv, the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the western city of Lviv and the southern city of Odessa, among others.

In Kyiv, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, two residential buildings were hit and one person was killed.

Video released by the mayor’s office showed an apartment building in Kyiv surrounded by heavy flames and thick smoke.

Half of Kyiv is losing power

The mayor also said about half of the capital was without electricity.

The northeastern city of Kharkiv was without power, according to officials there.

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s recent missile attacks on Ukraine,” said Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who was at the G-20 summit in Bali.

“The United States and our allies and partners will continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs for its defense, including air defense systems. We will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Sullivan said.

Speaking to the G-20 via video earlier Tuesday, Zelenskyy said his country was determined to regain all of its territory occupied by Russia.

“In order to liberate our whole country, we still have to fight for a while,” Zelenskyy said.

There are some international calls for peace talks to end the war in Ukraine. However, Zelenskyy noted that the two countries signed interim agreements after Russia’s first invasion in 2014.

Russia has used this period of relative calm to regroup militarily, he said, adding that Ukraine will not fall for it again.

We will not allow Russia to wait and build up its armed forces,” said Zelenskyy.

In his speech, the President repeatedly called the G20 the “G19” and said Russia should be excluded.

Russia turns to Air Force

With Russia’s ground forces unable to make much headway in recent months, and in many cases being pushed back significantly, Russia is increasingly relying on airstrikes.

Russia launched a heavy bombing campaign against Ukraine’s power systems in October, damaging around 40% of the country’s electricity system, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainian workers tried to repair the damaged power grid. However, many parts of the country, including the capital, were experiencing hour-long daily power outages before the latest attack.

The Russian airstrikes come as temperatures plummet and a long, cold winter lies ahead.

Ukraine’s limited air defenses have proven more effective than expected in protecting key government and military installations.

However, the recent Russian campaign has targeted such a wide range of civil and energy assets that Ukraine has been unable to protect them all.

Franco Ordoñez reported from Nusa Dua; Greg Myre from Kyiv.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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