Russian missiles cross into Poland during strike on Ukraine
By John Leicester, The Associated Press and James LaPorta.
Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy facilities Tuesday with its biggest barrage of missiles yet, striking targets across the country and causing widespread blackouts. A senior U.S. intelligence official said missiles crossed into NATO member Poland, where two people were killed. A second person told The Associated Press that apparent Russian missiles struck a site in Poland about 15 miles from the Ukrainian border.
If confirmed, the strike would mark the first time in the war that Russian weapons have come down on a NATO country.
The Russian Defence Ministry denied being behind “any strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish border” and said in a statement that photos of purported damage “have nothing to do” with Russian weapons.
A NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the alliance was looking into reports of a strike in Poland. The U.S. National Security Council said it was also checking into the reports.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller did not immediately confirm the information from the U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation. But Mueller said top leaders were holding an emergency meeting due to a “crisis situation.”
Polish media reported that two people died Tuesday afternoon after a projectile struck an area where grain was drying in Przewodów, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.
The barrage also affected neighbouring Moldova. An official said that it reported massive power outages after the strikes knocked out a key power line that supplies the small nation.
The missile strikes plunged much of Ukraine into darkness and drew defiance from President Volodymr Zelenskyy, who shook his fist and declared: “We will survive everything.”
In his nightly address, the Ukrainian leader characterized the reported strikes in Poland as “a very significant escalation” that offered proof that “terror is not limited by our state borders.”
“We need to put the terrorist in its place. The longer Russia feels impunity, the more threats there will be for everyone within reach of Russian missiles,” Zelenskyy said.
Russia fired at least 85 missiles, most of them aimed at the country’s power facilities, and blacked out many cities, he said.
The Ukrainian energy minister said the attack was “the most massive” bombardment of power facilities in the nearly 9-month-old Russian invasion, striking both power generation and transmission systems.
The power grid was already battered by previous attacks that destroyed an estimated 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure. Zelenskyy said 10 million Ukrainians are without power.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not commented on the retreat from Kherson since his troops pulled out in the face of a Ukrainian offensive. But the stunning scale of Tuesday’s strikes spoke volumes and hinted at anger in the Kremlin.
By striking targets in the late afternoon, not long before dusk began to fall, the Russian military forced rescue workers to labour in the dark and gave repair crews scant time to assess the damage by daylight.