- The United States is investigating unconfirmed reports of stray Russian missiles
- The reports in Poland, a NATO member, are alarming
- Russia: No strikes with its weapons near the Ukrainian-Polish border
- Ukraine suffers from the heaviest Russian missile barrage of the war
WARSAW/Kyiv, Ukraine (Reuters) – Two people were killed in an explosion in a Polish village near the border with Ukraine on Tuesday, firefighters said, as NATO allies investigate unconfirmed reports that the blast was caused by stray Russian missiles.
The explosion occurred after Russia bombarded cities across Ukraine with missiles on Tuesday, in what Kyiv said was the heaviest wave of strikes in nearly nine months of the Russian invasion. Some hit the western city of Lviv, less than 80 kilometers (49.7 miles) from the border with Poland.
Poland is a member of the US-led Western military alliance, which is committed to collective defense, and the possibility that the Polish explosion was caused by a deliberate or accidental Russian strike has raised the alarm.
A NATO official said the alliance was studying the reports and coordinating closely with Poland.
The news agency Associated Press quoted a senior US intelligence official as saying that the explosion, which occurred in the village of Przyodo in eastern Poland, resulted from the crossing of Russian missiles into Poland.
The Pentagon and the US State Department in Washington said they could not confirm the fall of Russian missiles on Polish soil.
“We are aware of press reports alleging that two Russian missiles struck a site inside Poland near the Ukrainian border. I can tell you that we do not have any information at this time to corroborate these reports and are looking into this further,” said Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied reports that Russian missiles had fallen in Poland, describing it as a “deliberate provocation aimed at escalating the situation.”
Government spokesman Piotr Mueller said on Twitter that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had called an urgent meeting of the government’s committee for national security and defense affairs on Tuesday night.
Polish radio ZET reported that two stray missiles hit Przywdo, killing two people, without elaborating. The village is located 6 kilometers (3.5 mi) from the border with Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, without providing evidence, that “Russian missiles hit Poland.”
Senior officials from Germany, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia – all NATO members – said they are trying to gather more information with Poland and other allies.
“This is a very serious incident, but there are still many uncertainties,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Anneken Huitfeldt.
Explosions in Ukraine
Sirens sounded and explosions went off in nearly a dozen major Ukrainian cities, repeating a pattern that had set in recent weeks of Moscow pushing away from the front after battlefield losses, most recently in the southern city of Kherson.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement that Russia launched 110 missiles and 10 Iranian-made attack drones on Ukraine in the early evening.
Zelensky said the main target of the missile attack was energy infrastructure, as before, though he added that only 10 intended targets had been hit.
“It’s clear what the enemy wants. It’s not going to happen,” he said in a video address on the messaging app Telegram. Kyiv said such strikes strengthened its resolve to push back the Russian forces that invaded in February.
And in the capital Kyiv, flames spewed from a five-storey apartment building after it was hit by what residents said appeared to be pieces of a dropped missile. The emergency service said one person had been confirmed dead and another injured. Kyiv’s mayor said half of the capital was left without electricity.
Other strikes or explosions were reported in cities ranging from Lviv and Zhytomyr in the west to Kryvyi Rih in the south and Kharkiv in the east. Provincial officials stated that some of the attacks resulted in power, water and heating cuts.
The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement that the attacks left millions of Ukrainians without power in 16 of the country’s 24 regions, including Kyiv.
Abandonment of sailing ships
Just four days ago, Russian forces abandoned the city of Kherson in the south, the only regional capital Moscow has occupied since its conquest, and six weeks after President Vladimir Putin declared it an eternal part of Russia.
Moscow said last week that its forces would occupy easily defensible positions on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River that divides Ukraine. But video footage shot in the town of Oleshki, across a collapsed bridge from Kherson, appears to show Russian forces evacuating their hideouts there as well.
To the east, Russian officials said they were pulling civil servants out of Nova Kakhovka, the second largest city in Kherson province, on the riverbank next to a massive strategic dam.
Natalia Homenyuk, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military, said that Moscow was apparently working to reposition troops and artillery at a distance of 15-20 kilometers from the Dnipro River to protect its guns from Ukrainian counter-strikes.
Russia has artillery that can still hit Kherson from those new positions, she said, but “we also have something to answer for.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay, Tom Palmforth, Reuters offices) Writing by Peter Graf and Mark Heinrichs; Editing by William McLean, Alex Richardson, and Grant McCall
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