Inside, the US scrambles to sum up the facts as the Russian-Ukrainian war spills over into NATO territory

Inside, the US scrambles to sum up the facts as the Russian-Ukrainian war spills over into NATO territory


President Joe Biden was sleeping midway all over the world when aides woke him up in the midst of the evening with pressing information: a missile had hit Poland and killed two folks.

At 5:30 a.m. native time in Bali, the place the president was attend the G20 summitBiden, nonetheless in a t-shirt and khaki, was on the cellphone together with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda to hunt clarification on the true origin of the missile – a important reality given the possibly disastrous implications of a Russian missile strike on a NATO ally.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was touring with Biden, was additionally woken up by a person knocking on the door round 4 a.m. native time with information of the explosion, a US official stated – information that almost all U.S. officers solely found from public experiences and conversations with Polish officers.

Blinken and Nationwide Safety Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with their Polish counterparts and joined Biden on the decision with Duda.

Polish officers started listening to of a possible explosion within the jap border village of Przewodów round 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, or 11 p.m. Bali time, sources stated, and experiences started to circulate publicly and knowledgeable. to allies round 1 p.m. ET or 2 a.m. in Bali.

Because the morning wore on and extra intelligence got here in, it grew to become clear to US officers reviewing satellite tv for pc intelligence programs and speaking to their Polish counterparts that the missile, which landed on a Polish farm within the excessive east of the nation, appeared to have been launched by Ukraine as a part of its air protection programs.

After a number of hours of tension, Biden was the primary to ease among the rigidity, telling reporters that early info advised the missile was not launched by Russia.

The aid amongst US officers was palpable. Opposite to their worst fears, preliminary intelligence advised that Russia had not intentionally attacked Poland, an official stated. However for Biden and his advisers, the episode nonetheless represented a state of affairs they’d lengthy feared: an unintended strike on NATO territory, the implications and penalties of which remained unclear.

With the state of affairs so fluid, Biden advisers have appealed for calm and persistence, together with to Ukrainian officers.

About an hour after information broke of the incident, Volodymyr Zelensky stated in his in a single day handle that “Russian missiles hit Poland”, calling it “a really important escalation” that required a response.

Sullivan rapidly known as Zelensky’s workplace after the remarks and urged officers to be extra cautious about how they mentioned the incident, sources conversant in the decision stated. Biden and Zelensky didn’t communicate on Tuesday evening, regardless of requests from the Ukrainian chief to rearrange a name, a supply conversant in the matter stated.

The US and Poland rapidly agreed to work carefully collectively on an investigation into the strike, and CIA Director Invoice Burns met with Duda in Warsaw on Wednesday night, a US official stated. Hours earlier, Burns had been hunkered down on the US Embassy in Kyiv as Russian missiles hit the town.

However the incident additionally created cracks within the West’s alliance with Ukraine.

Each Biden and Duda have now publicly said that the missile appeared to have come from Ukraine’s air protection system – a declare that Zelensky continued to flatly deny, which pissed off Polish officers, sources stated.

Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks during a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, November 16, 2022.

And though Biden spoke with Duda and NATO Secretary Common Jens Stoltenberg the day after the strike, and held emergency talks with world leaders on the G20, the president nonetheless had no spoke straight with Zelensky on Wednesday afternoon, sources conversant in the matter advised CNN. .

As a substitute, Sullivan spoke to Zelensky’s chief of workers inside hours of the blast, the sources stated, and Blinken spoke together with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Ukraine has additionally requested to affix the investigative workforce, made up of American and Polish officers, inspecting the location of the missile assault, Zelensky stated on Wednesday. “We have now to take part within the investigation,” he advised reporters. However this request has not but been granted.

Again in Washington on Tuesday, Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin was assembly with Undersecretary of Protection Kathleen Hicks and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees Mark Milley when an aide interrupted the announcement of the explosion, and the three officers known as their Polish counterparts quickly after.

Shortly after, round 2 p.m., a press convention with Pentagon spokesman Brig. Common Pat Ryder was solely minutes away. However some Pentagon officers had simply heard of a missile hitting Poland from the media, and the Pentagon had nothing to corroborate a Russian missile launch that hit NATO territory.

Pentagon officers needed to determine whether or not to undergo with it, figuring out they’d nearly no info to offer on what instantly grew to become crucial merchandise of the day.

In the end, an official advised CNN, the press store moved ahead, believing that canceling the press convention on the final minute would sign the precise sort of panic that officers have been desperate to keep away from.

As Ryder stood on the rostrum, he answered repeated questions in regards to the missile for which he didn’t but have a solution.

In the meantime, Milley was in his workplace within the Pentagon’s outer ring, ordering his workers to line up cellphone calls, officers stated. The primary was his Polish counterpart, rapidly adopted by his Ukrainian counterpart. Milley jumped from name to name, chatting with different protection chiefs, in addition to Gen. Chris Cavoli, the commander of European Command, who was additionally engaged on the cellphone.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon on November 16, 2022

Milley’s workers labored to convey his Russian counterpart, Chief of the Common Employees Valery Gerasimov, on-line. The latter two spoke on the finish of October, one of many solely occasions they’d discussions for the reason that begin of the Russian invasion. However this time there was no name and the 2 by no means spoke on Tuesday evening.

That night, Milley and Austin briefed Biden on what they’d discovered in regards to the incident.

On Wednesday, a number of senior US officers stated publicly that intelligence pointed to the explosion of a Ukrainian air protection missile that unintentionally landed in Poland. The US had additionally shared the categorized info with its allies forward of Wednesday morning’s North Atlantic Council assembly at NATO headquarters, an official stated.

“We have now not seen something that contradicts President Duda’s preliminary evaluation that this explosion was almost definitely the results of a Ukrainian air protection missile which sadly landed in Poland,” stated the spokeswoman for the Council of nationwide safety Adrienne Watson in an announcement.

Throughout preliminary examinations of the blast web site, particles was discovered that seemed to be from a Soviet-era S-300 missile, sources near intelligence stated. The preliminary evaluation is that the Ukrainian air protection missile tried to intercept a Russian missile however missed and landed in Poland, a number of US and NATO officers stated.

Throughout a press convention on Wednesday, Duda stated that “in response to the data that we and our allies have, it was an S-300 rocket made within the Soviet Union, an previous rocket and there’s no has no proof that it was launched by the Russian aspect.It’s almost definitely that it was fired by the Ukrainian anti-aircraft protection.

The US additionally decided that the Russian missile probably continued on its course and both hit its goal or landed close by, an official stated.

Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky addresses the G20 from his office in Kyiv, Ukraine on November 15.

Zelensky, in the meantime, continued to insist that the missile was not launched by Ukrainian forces. On Wednesday, he advised reporters in Kyiv “I’ve little doubt that it was not our missile”, citing info he had acquired from the command of the Ukrainian armed forces and the air power.

Zelensky additionally expressed frustration that Ukrainian officers weren’t allowed to affix the joint Polish-American investigation of the location, and stated he wished to see “the quantity on the missile, as a result of all of the missiles carry numbers”.

“Do now we have the best to be within the investigation workforce? stated Zelensky. “Positive.”

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