WASHINGTON (AA) – Regardless of who fired the missile that killed two people in eastern Poland, it is Russia that “bears ultimate responsibility” for the incident, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Wednesday.
Austin said the “tragic and troubling incident is yet another reminder of the recklessness of Russia’s war of choice.”
“Ukraine has a bedrock right to defend itself, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they defend their country,” he told reporters at the Pentagon alongside Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley.
The missile in question landed late Tuesday in the village of Przewodow, which lies near the border with Ukraine.
The incident sparked fears of an escalation between NATO, of which Poland is a member, and Russia.
But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said initial analysis suggested it was “likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory,” an analysis backed up by Poland.
The strike came as Ukraine attempted to fend off an unprecedented wave of Russian missile attacks that targeted key energy infrastructure vital to Ukraine’s civilian population as winter approaches.