U.S. Supports Poland’s Assessment of Missile Strike
The U.S. said it supports Poland’s investigation into Tuesday’s “explosion.”
“We have seen nothing that contradicts Duda’s preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said during a press conference on Ukraine Wednesday.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said that the incident does not appear to be a deliberate Russia attack, but was rather caused by a Ukrainian air defense system.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, however, that he believes it was a Russian missile that struck Poland.
Austin later said it would be “premature” for any leader to jump to a conclusion about the incident before the investigation is over. He added that the information the U.S. has at this point supports Duda’s assessment.
Regardless of what Poland’s investigation concludes, Austin said Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the incident as it began this war and continues to launch missile attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.
Secretary Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley gave an update following the seventh meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Wednesday.
Austin commended Ukraine’s “tremendous leadership and tenacity.” He said Ukrainian forces are consolidating their gains on the battlefield, including in Kherson and Kharkiv, and asking allies to help bolster their air defense capabilities.
Austin added that that NASAMS the U.S. sent to Ukraine have had a “100 percent success rate” in intercepting Russian missiles.
The U.S. is also working to help Ukraine repair its energy infrastructure after targeted Russian attacks.
General Milley said these attacks on civilians infrastructure has “little to no military purpose” and have left over a quarter of Ukrainians without power.
The onset of the winter will cause even more suffering as basic human survival is impacted, Milley said.
“Targeting the power grid and causing damage and suffering is a war crime,” he said.
But even after launching its largest wave of missiles since the beginning of the war, General Milley said Russia is failing in every way in Ukraine.
With continued Ukrainian successes and significant Russian losses, Milley said Russia lost “strategically, operationally and tactically” as it tried to reframe its objectives in Ukraine.
Russia is currently trying to regroup their forces to continue their “campaign of terror” to issue “maximum suffering” on civilians.
As tactical operations slow down in Ukraine during the winter, Milley said this pause may provide a window for a political solution to end the conflict. But the Pentagon officials say any decision to negotiate with Russia is entirely up to Ukraine.
“It’s clear that Russia’s will to fight does not match Ukraine’s will to fight,” he said.
“Ukraine will continue to endure and not back down,” Milley added. “[The Ukrainians] are hard, tough, free people. And they want to remain free.”
Both Austin and Milley thanked European and North American allies for their continued support for Ukraine but sending air defense systems, ammunition and leading trainings.
The U.S. and its allies are steadfast in their support for Ukraine and have pledged to provide the best equipment to Ukraine to defend itself as long as necessary.