President Biden Thursday disputed comments made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who remains confident that the “explosion” that killed two in Poland did not come from a Ukrainian missile.
“That’s not the evidence,” Biden told reporters from the South Lawn after arriving in Washington shortly after 12:30 a.m.
Zelenskyy on Wednesday countered comments from NATO and Polish officials who said preliminary evidence suggested the “explosion” that killed two Poles in the village of Przewodow, roughly 30 miles from the Ukrainian border, likely came from Ukraine’s air defense system.
“I have no doubt this was not our missile and not our missile strike,” Zelenskyy reportedly told Ukrainian media from a news conference in Kyiv, adding he had been given assurances from his top commanders.
The tragic event Tuesday sparked international furor after one anonymous U.S. officials apparently inaccurately told the Associated Press that a Russian missile had struck NATO territory – sparking immediate concern over how the member nations would react.
Zelenskyy later acknowledged that it could not be ruled out that debris from its air defense system crashed into Poland after Russia carried out dozens of strikes across Ukraine earlier this week.
“But there is an investigation for this,” he said.
The Ukrainian president questioned this theory and pointed to the size of the impact area which he said was roughly 65 feet in diameter and 16 feet deep.
“I have my own opinion,” he added. “I believe that this is a Russian missile.”
Kyiv has called on NATO and Poland to allow Ukraine to help with the investigation, and Zelenskyy said if it is found to have come from Ukraine’s defense system, he would like to see that evidence.
“If some debris killed these people, then we need to apologize. We are honest people,” he added.
Western officials, including NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said Wednesday that despite preliminary evidence, Kyiv was not at fault and well within its right to strike down an incoming Russian missile.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin echoed this sentiment and told reporters that “whatever the final conclusions may be, the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident.”
“Russia launched another barrage of missiles against Ukraine specifically intended to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure,” he said Wednesday. “And Ukraine has a bedrock right to defend itself.”
The investigation into the explosion remains ongoing.