Ukrainian- Two farmers were identified as the victims killed when a Russian-made missile crossed into Poland and struck the country’s eastern region on Wednesday.
Boguslaw Wos, 62, a grain warehouse foreman, and Bogdan Ciupek, 60, a tractor driver, were killed in the explosion Tuesday in the eastern village of Przewodów, according to Metro UK.
Wos had worked at the grain-processing plant for 40 years, while Ciupek drove a tractor there, according to the outlet, which cited local media.
The explosion on Tuesday caused immediate concern because it was unclear whether it was an intentional strike. According to preliminary findings, the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces in response to an incoming Russian missile.
“Ukraine’s defense was launching their missiles in various directions and it is highly probable that one of these missiles, unfortunately, fell on Polish territory,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said. “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”
For many residents of the village of Przewodów, there was a moment of relief when they learned the strike appeared to have been an accident.
“Everyone has in the back of their mind that we are right near the border and that an armed conflict with Russia would expose us directly,” Grzegorz Drewnik, the mayor of Dolhobyczow, which incorporates Przewodow, told Reuters.
“That’s the biggest fear. If this is a mistake of the Ukrainians, there should be no major consequences, but I’m not an expert here.”
NATO leaders on Wednesday held an emergency meeting in Brussels, where Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized what the initial investigation uncovered.
“We have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack,” Stoltenberg said, adding that he wanted to “be clear” that “this is not Ukraine’s fault.”
“Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
President Biden said Tuesday evening it was “unlikely” that the deadly strike had been fired by Russia, but pledged support for Poland’s investigation into the incident.
Poland said it would invoke NATO’s Article 4, which calls for allies to meet to discuss a security threat, but it’s unclear whether they will do so now that evidence suggests the blast was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile.
Though Ukraine initially blamed Moscow, Russia has denied any involvement in the deadly blast.