Officials say Ukraine may get access to missile blast site
PRZEWODOW, Poland/WARSAW –
Ukraine may get the access it has demanded to the site in the border area of southeastern Poland where a missile killed two people on Tuesday, Polish officials said on Thursday.
Warsaw and its Western allies say evidence from the scene points to the explosion being caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile that went astray in pursuit of a Russian missile. Kyiv denies this, saying it has evidence of a “Russian trace” in the blast.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday that including Ukrainian officials in the investigation would require the agreement of both countries leading an ongoing investigation, Poland and the United States.
“If Ukrainian guests want to see the investigation, we will be able to show them, just as I have been shown,” Duda said on Thursday during a visit to Przewodow, a village six kilometres (four miles) from the Ukrainian border where the missile landed.
“When it comes to participating in the investigation and access to documents and information, this requires specific treaty provisions, international law provisions, international agreements,” he said.
Duda did not elaborate on whether Poland would grant such access.
“Ukraine and Poland will cooperate constructively and openly on the incident caused by Russian missile terror against Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
“Our experts are already in Poland. We expect them to swiftly get access to the site in cooperation with Polish law enforcement.”
Duda said investigators found no sign of a second missile on Polish soil. Some initial media reports mentioned two rockets.
The explosion has stirred fear and disbelief among residents of Przewodow, a village of around 440 people, raising concerns among locals that the Ukraine conflict, Europe’s most deadly since World War Two, could spill across the border into NATO member Poland at any time.
Duda said it was a very trying time for the families of the victims and the local community, as well as for Ukraine.
“This is an extremely difficult situation for them and huge emotions, enormous stress,” Duda said.
Presidential adviser Jakub Kumoch earlier said that Poland had video evidence regarding the blast.
“These are our normal photos from the border, where you can see certain things. You see shots over Ukraine, fighting over Ukraine, and at some point, in a very short time, you see a certain sequence of events,” Kumoch said.
He said that from the missile debris, the depth of the crater and the amount of fuel used it was possible to calculate where it was fired from.
Kumoch did not provide any other details. He said that he wanted the Ukrainians to get acquainted with these materials first, in contact with those conducting the investigation.
Poland has said it believes the missile was an S-300, an old Soviet-era rocket used by both Russia and Ukraine.
While Warsaw and Kyiv differ on the location the missile was fired from, they and other Western allies are united in the view that ultimately Russia is at fault.
“The Russian side must be aware of the threat it poses by bombing … at a distance of literally several dozen kilometers from the Polish border, that any of the missiles, whether from the Russian side or those Ukrainian anti-missile systems, can land on the territory of a foreign state, in this case, Poland,” said Adrian Kubicki, Poland’s Consul General in New York.
“So nothing here changes the assessment that the Russian Federation is responsible for what happened.”
A Reuters journalist on the outskirts of Przewodow said there appeared to be few locals on the streets on Thursday, other than children being taken to school by bus. Access to Przewodow has been blocked by police.
Military and police vehicles entered the village periodically, while soldiers patrolled the streets and surrounding fields.
Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz, Anna Koper, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Marek Strzelecki in Warsaw, Kuba Stezycki in Przewodow, Aleksandra Michalska in New York, writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie
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