Key developments on Nov. 16
- West says blast in eastern Poland caused by Ukrainian air defense missile
- White House: Russia bears ultimate responsibility regardless of whose missile fell on Poland
- Zelensky says it was likely ‘Russian’ missile based on his military reports
- Another victim from Nov. 15 mass strike found dead in Kyiv Oblast
A stray missile that fell onto NATO-member Poland’s border village, killing two people, was likely a Ukrainian air defense missile fired during heavy Russian strikes, Western officials said on Nov. 16.
The White House emphasized that Russia bears the ultimate responsibility for the “tragic incident” regardless of whose missile fell on eastern Poland.
"Ukraine had — and has — every right to defend itself," the White House said in a statement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the investigation into the blast is ongoing but there was “no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he had “no doubt” that it wasn’t a Ukrainian missile.
"I believe that this was a Russian missile, based on our military reports," Zelensky said, adding that he wanted Ukrainian representatives participating in the investigation. He later asked the West to share “all the data” about the blast with Ukraine.
The two victims were men aged around 60 in the village of Przewodów, about six kilometers (four miles) from the Ukrainian border, according to the Associated Press.
Polish President Andrzej Duda called it an “unfortunate accident,” explaining that there was no evidence that it could have been a deliberate attack on his country.
“Ukraine’s defense was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles unfortunately fell on Polish territory,” Duda said. A White House statement published later echoed Duda's words.
At a G7 and NATO meeting on Nov. 16, U.S. President Joe Biden had also said that the missile blast was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile, Reuters reported, citing a source in the military alliance.
First-ever hit on NATO territory
The West’s emerging theory of the blast is that an outdated S-300 missile system accidentally fell into Polish territory. Originally developed by the Soviet Union, such weapons are used by both Ukraine and Russia.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said that the “remains of the Russian S-300 rocket, used by the Russian and Ukrainian armies, were found.” He said that U.S. experts were working at the site together with Polish ones.
Contrary to the West’s claims, Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Zhdanov told the Kyiv Independent that he could hardly believe that a S-300 complex was involved in the blast. He explained that if it were the case, its self-destruction mechanism would have been activated since the missile missed the target.
From a technical point of view, it was most likely a Russian Kh-101 missile, Zhdanov said.
“This missile is designed specifically to overcome anti-missile defense systems,” he said. “It flies at a very low altitude and is not seen by radars. So from a technical point of view, it was most likely a Russian missile.”
Rising death toll
Another victim killed during Russia’s massive missile strike was found in Kyiv Oblast on Nov. 16, raising the domestic death toll to two.
Kyiv Oblast Police Chief Andrii Nebytov said that flying missile fragments hit the 69-year-old woman while visiting her husband’s grave. She lived in Plesetske village, 45 kilometers southwest of capital Kyiv.
While far less intense than the Nov. 15 coordinated nationwide attack, Russian shelling and strikes continued to be reported in eastern and southern Ukraine on Nov. 16.
In the heavily-shelled Donetsk Oblast, a civilian was killed in Bakhmut and seven across the region were wounded, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. He added that three bodies of civilians killed during Russian occupation were found in the liberated northern part of Donetsk Oblast.
Russian forces fired three rockets at a village near the southeastern regional capital of Zaporizhzhia and shelled neighboring Dnipropetrovsk Oblast’s Nikopol area overnight, according to local authorities. No casualties were reported in either attack.
Nationwide, Russia launched three missile strikes and two airstrikes on Nov. 16, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.