Rocket explosion in eastern Poland that killed two people raises concerns over Russia's military campaign in Ukraine — now in its 266th day — becoming a wider conflict, with Warsaw drumming up support from NATO bloc members.

Ukraine has blamed Moscow but Western leaders said the missile was probably launched by Ukrainian air defence against a Russian barrage on Tuesday.
Ukraine has blamed Moscow but Western leaders said the missile was probably launched by Ukrainian air defence against a Russian barrage on Tuesday. (AA)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Ukraine requests 'immediate access' to Poland blast site 

Kiev has requested access to the site of a deadly blast in a Polish village after Western officials said the explosion there was likely caused by Ukrainian air defences.

"Ukraine requests immediate access to the site of the explosion," the secretary of Ukraine's national security and defence council, Oleksiy Danilov, said on Twitter.

He added that Kiev was ready to hand over "evidence" of its allegations that Russia was responsible.

Hungary calls Zelenskyy's Poland missile claims irresponsible

Hungary called Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's insistence a missile which landed in Poland was fired by Russia irresponsible as Washington endorsed Poland's conclusion the projectile likely originated from Kiev's air defences.

"In such a situation, world leaders speak responsibly," Gergely Gulyas, chief of staff to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, told reporters.

"The Ukrainian president, by immediately accusing the Russians, was wrong, it's a bad example," he said, praising the cautious attitude of Poland and the United States.

Zelenskyy urges China not to back Russia

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged China not to back Russia amid Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

"It is important for us that China does not choose Russia's side," the Ukrainian leader said, adding he was not against a world dominated by China and the United States.

Russian attacks on Ukraine infrastructure a 'terror' campaign and 'war crimes': top US general

Russia's attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure constitute a "terror" campaign and "war crimes," following the complete battlefield failure of Moscow's forces, the top US general said.

"Russia is choosing to use their time to attempt to regroup their forces, and they are imposing a campaign of terror, a campaign of maximum suffering on the Ukrainian civilian population, in order to defeat Ukrainian morale," said Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley. 

Sweden announces $68.8 million security assistance package to Ukraine

Sweden said it would provide Ukraine with a security assistance package of 720 million Swedish crowns ($68.8 million).

“Good news from Scandinavia: Sweden announced another package of security assistance for Ukraine worth SEK 720m. Air defence systems, vehicles, winter equipment will help our soldiers and support Ukraine’s fight.

Thank you to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Defence Minister Pal Jonsson, and the Swedish people,” Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov wrote on Twitter.

Zelenskyy says Russia has not proposed peace talks to Kiev

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Russia had not made any offer of peace talks to Kiev.

"They do not communicate with us," he told reporters in Kiev.

Belarus says downed Ukraine drone near volatile border

Belarus said it had shot down a reconnaissance drone approaching from Ukraine, the latest incident along a border that Russia used to launch its military operation in Ukraine.

"Border guards in Pinsk spotted a quadcopter 100 metres from the border, heading from the Ukrainian side to the territory of Belarus," the border guard said in a statement.

"A border patrol shot down the drone with a Kalashnikov rifle," it added.

G20 calls for Russia’s 'unconditional withdrawal’ from Ukraine

In a joint declaration, G20 member states have called for Russia's "complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine."

The declaration, adopted at the G20 Bali Summit in Indonesia, said that "most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine," and that the conflict is "causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy - constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks."

"It is essential to uphold international law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability," G20 members said. 

Despite criticism, Russia hails 'balanced' G20 leaders' declaration

Russia hailed the G20 leaders' declaration, which mentions the "immense human suffering" caused by the war in Ukraine, as a "balanced text" that Russian diplomats worked hard to influence.

The Kremlin published a full and accurate Russian translation of the declaration on its website - a surprising move given that the wording was sharply critical of Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the final text was an achievement for Russia. 

No indication blast was intentional attack on Poland - President

Poland’s president said that there is no indication Tuesday’s blast near the border was an intentional attack on the country, referring to the explosion on Tuesday in the village of Przewodow, eastern Poland.

"Most likely, it was an unfortunate accident," Andrzej Duda said, adding that "there is absolutely no circumstantial evidence to conclude that this was an attack on Poland."

He also said, in line with other leaders’ remarks: "There is a high probability that it was a missile of Ukrainian air defence."

Russia says missile strike in Poland caused by Ukrainian air defence

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.

Separately, US President Joe Biden told G7 and NATO partners that a missile blast in eastern Poland was caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile, a NATO source told Reuters. 

The Kremlin accused some Western countries, especially Poland, of reacting "hysterically" to the incident, but said the United States and President Biden had shown restraint.

Russia spoke in favour of grain deal extension at G20 summit - minister

Russia spoke in favour of extending the Türkiye-brokered Black Sea grain deal at this week's G20 summit in Bali, as long as more grain was sent to countries in the greatest need, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told Russia's state-run RT news channel.

Moscow has said its agreement depends on provisions to ensure it can export its own grain and fertiliser despite the obstacles created by Western sanctions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the summit "that we are in favour of continuing the grain deal, but we are in favour of ensuring that the grain supplied under the Black Sea arrangements goes specifically to countries that need the grain, rather than to Western countries and countries with European economies, as is currently the case," Siluanov told RT.

No clear evidence on who launched missile: Polish president

There is no clear evidence at the moment on who launched the missile on Polish territory, the country’s president has said.

"We know that there were Russian missile attacks on Ukraine practically all day, but we do not have any clear evidence at the moment on who fired the rocket. The investigation is still under way," Andrzej Duda told Polish news agency PAP a day after a suspected missile attack on the country.

"Most likely it was a rocket of Russian production, but all this is still under investigation," he added, saying that military experts and prosecutors are working on the scene and welcomed US Biden’s offer for sending US experts to join Polish teams.

NATO holds emergency talks after missile lands in Poland

Ambassadors from the 30 NATO nations gathered in Brussels for emergency talks after Poland said that a Russian-made missile fell on its territory.

NATO chief spokeswoman Oana Lungescu described the blast as a “tragic incident.”

While the missile immediately raised concern and confusion about whether Russia might be broadening the offensive it launched against Ukraine in February, potentially dragging NATO into the conflict, three US officials said preliminary assessments suggest the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian projectile, and Biden said it was “unlikely” that it was fired from Russia.

Ukraine has repelled more than 1,300 cyberattacks since start of war: Zelenskyy

Ukraine has repelled more than 1,300 cyberattacks since the start of the war with Russia in February, the Ukrainian president said.

“In the first week of the invasion, Russia destroyed a key data centre of our country, and the response solution is the ‘clouds’ into which we moved part of the information systems,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his address to the Digital Transformation panel organized as part of the G20 Summit.

Highlighting the importance of digitalisation, Zelenskyy said that millions of Ukrainians use the Diia e-governance web portal that allows Ukrainian citizens to use digital documents.

Macron urges China to play 'greater mediation role' on Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged China to play a "greater mediation role" to help avoid an escalation of the Ukraine war, a day after talks with his Chinese counterpart.

China has declined to put pressure on Moscow over its nearly nine-month-old attack, and helped shield Russia from diplomatic censure at forums such as the United Nations. 

But recently, it has hinted at its displeasure with how Russia has prosecuted the war, and particularly dark rhetoric from President Vladimir Putin threatening the use of nuclear weapons.

Power being restored after Russian strikes: Kiev

Ukrainian officials said power supply was being gradually restored across the war-torn country, a day after devastating Russian air strikes targeted its energy infrastructure.

Some ten million Ukrainians were left without electricity when dozens of Russian missiles hit power stations in the biggest aerial attack since Russia's attack began in February.

On Wednesday fresh air raid alerts were sounding again across the country, raising concerns over new attacks, but the warnings were lifted in the capital Kiev minutes after. No warnings were reported in the Crimea region, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

Sweden to deliver its biggest military aid package yet to Ukraine

Sweden will deliver new military aid worth 3 billion crowns ($287 million) to Ukraine, its biggest package of defence material to date which included an air defence system, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said.

Previous arms contribution by Sweden has ranged from simple equipment such as helmets and body armour to rocket-propelled grenades and missiles.

Defence Minister Pal Jonson said the new package of military equipment included an air defence system and ammunition from the stockpiles of its armed forces.

UN chief warns 'absolutely essential to avoid escalating' Ukraine conflict
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that it is "absolutely essential" to avoid escalating the Ukraine war after a deadly missile strike in NATO member Poland killed two people.

"The Secretary-General is very concerned by the reports of a missile exploding on Polish territory," the UN chief said, according to his spokesman Farhan Haq. "It is absolutely essential to avoid escalating the war in Ukraine."

Ukraine grain exports down 30.8% at 15.6 mln T so far

Ukraine has exported almost 15.6 million tonnes of grain so far in the 2022/23 season, down 30.8 percent from the 22.5 million tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed.

The volume included almost 6 million tonnes of wheat, 8.3 million tonnes of corn and 1.3 million tonnes of barley.

The government has said Ukraine could harvest between 50 million and 52 million tonnes of grain this year, down from a record 86 million tonnes in 2021 because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower yields. 

Ukrainian presidential adviser: Russia to blame for any 'incidents with missiles'

A senior adviser to Ukraine's president said that Russia was to blame for any "incidents with missiles" after Moscow's offensive in his country.

"In my opinion, it is necessary to adhere to only one logic. The war was started and is being waged by Russia. Russia massively attacks Ukraine with cruise missiles," Mykhailo Podolyak said in a written statement after Biden said a missile that killed two people in Poland was probably not fired from Russia.

"Russia has turned the eastern part of the European continent into an unpredictable battlefield. Intent, means of execution, risks, escalation - all this is only Russia. And there can be no other explanation for any incidents with missiles." 

Biden and Sunak discuss Ukraine, other topics

Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak affirmed their strong support for Ukraine as they met for talks that included the blast that took place in Poland, among other topics.

The two leaders, who met on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Indonesia, would fully support Poland’s investigation of the Tuesday blast, the White House said in a statement.

Separately, a Downing Street spokesperson said the two leaders held Putin's Russia directly responsible for rising inflation and related global economic issues.

Russia says it wants no disruption of global food security

Russia wants no disruption of global food security efforts, Russia's deputy foreign minister has said in an interview with the Izvestia daily, signalling that the Türkiye-led deal allowing Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea could be rolled over smoothly.

"We are people for whom the humanitarian dimension of the issue is not an empty word," Sergei Vershinin as the deal is due to roll over on November 19 unless there are objections.

If Western statements about exemptions from sanctions for Russia's food exports are put into practice, "everything would continue on normal terms" for the Black Sea grain deal, he said.

For live updates from Tuesday (November 15), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies