Russia Envoy Says Ukraine Dragging NATO Into War With Poland Missile Strike

In comments shared with Newsweek, Moscow's envoy in Washington has accused Kyiv of trying to bring NATO directly into the war after it was determined by allied leaders that a deadly blast across the Polish border was most likely triggered by Ukrainian defense systems attempting to intercept a Russian missile strike.

A number of Western officials initially attributed the cause of the incident Tuesday, which resulted in the deaths of two Polish citizens near the border village of Przewodów, to Russian missiles, sparking fears of a new escalation in the war.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Polish President Andrzej Duda have since acknowledged that it was likely a Ukrainian missile behind the incident, but allied officials including NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have cast blame on Moscow's actions for what occurred due to Russia's ongoing attacks on Ukraine.

And in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has continued to deny it was his forces' projectile that struck the neighboring NATO state.

In the midst of the fallout, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek that "we have noted that Ukrainian missiles landing on Polish territory continues to evoke a significant response in the United States."

"U.S. officials, media and non-governmental organizations continue to voice a mantra 'Russia is to blame for everything,'" Antonov said. "The American side resorts to such a method in any difficult situation. Even when the U.S. publicly acknowledges the fact that Kiev is responsible for the deaths of Polish civilians."

The Russian diplomat derided "absurd attempts to shift responsibility onto our country" and warned they "can only provoke the Kiev regime, which already feels permissiveness."

"The Ukrainian authorities are not only begging Washington to provide more military assistance," Antonov added, "but are also trying to provoke a direct military clash between the Russian Federation and NATO."

Where, missile, hit, Poland, near, Ukraine, border
An aerial view shows where a missile strike on Tuesday killed two men in the eastern Poland village of Przewodow, near the border with war-ravaged Ukraine. The blast occurred as Russia targeted Ukraine with a massive attack on civilian infrastructure, which has left millions of households without power, and initially sparked fears of a new escalation in the war, but by Wednesday, Poland announced the projectile likely originated from Ukraine's own air defenses and the theory was then endorsed by the U.S. WOJTEK RADWANSKI/DAMIEN SIMONART/AFP/Getty Images

As the war nears its nine-month mark, neither side has shown signs of relenting.

The current phase has seen Moscow attempt to defend four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia in an internationally unrecognized referendum held in late September in the occupied territories. Ukrainian forces have advanced in their counteroffensive, retaking the provincial capital of Kherson last week, but Russian missiles and drones continue to rain down across the country, leaving the power grid badly damaged and millions without power as winter approaches.

Kyiv and Moscow have also accused one another of refusing to negotiate on the basis of mutually acceptable conditions.

NATO has supported Ukraine throughout the conflict, sending economic and military assistance. The U.S., for its part, has provided around $54 billion in aid since the war began in February and the White House has asked Congress to green-light some $38 billion more in the aftermath of the incident across the Polish border.

Some Western officials such as Latvian Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks initially called for invoking NATO Article 4 over the strike, a measure that would see allies gather to discuss their concerns and potentially consider increasing assistance to Ukraine, which has sought more advanced air and missile defense systems. Another NATO clause, Article 5, asks nations to respond collectively to any attack on a member state.

Calls for such measures have cooled since evidence emerged that the strike was caused by a Ukrainian missile. But as NATO continued to accuse Russia of provoking such incidents through its military campaign, Antonov rejected this line of thought, calling it "absolutely baseless."

"In response to this," Antonov said, "we can only say that if the United States and its satellites had not been turning Ukraine into 'anti-Russia' for decades, the Russian Federation would not have launched the special military operation."

The Kremlin has defended its campaign as a necessary step to deter growing NATO support for Ukraine as the coalition expanded throughout the post-Soviet space in Eastern Europe. This support predates the current conflict and was first expanded in 2014 after an uprising that brought to power a government seeking closer ties to the West and a pro-Russia insurgency that emerged in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

Ukraine and its international backers, including the U.S., see that insurgency as the beginning of what they consider a war of aggression first launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin eight years ago. The tensions have led to the largest military mobilization in Europe since the Cold War, and a sharp increase in U.S. troops deployed to the frontlines of the continent, though Biden has vowed not to involve them in the fighting in Ukraine.

Briefing reporters Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reaffirmed Ukraine's "right to defend itself" and said that U.S. and Polish officials have been in contact with Ukrainian counterparts "to clarify the facts" of what occurred in eastern Poland on Tuesday as Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council pursued an effort to investigate the incident.