2022.11.16 09:18

Poland explosion marks ‘new phase of escalation’, says Lithuanian president after emergency meeting

updated, BNS 2022.11.16 09:18

Lithuania’s top officials met on Wednesday morning to discuss the security situation in the region after Russian missile strikes on Ukraine and explosions in Poland on Tuesday night.  

“The topic of the meeting is the changing security situation in the region in the wake of Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure,” President Gitanas Nausėda's office said before the meeting.

Speaking after the event, President Nausėda said that the reported incident in Poland on Tuesday evening marked a new phase in Russia's war on Ukraine.

“I think this is quite an important new milestone in the course of this war, as Russia’s aggressive actions in the war against Ukraine have already led to missiles being fired into NATO territory and the deaths of people living in NATO countries. This is a new phase of escalation of the conflict, to which NATO countries, NATO as a whole, must respond adequately,” President Gitanas Nausėda said at a press conference on Wednesday after the inter-agency meeting.

The president said that the incident in Poland, where a missile flew into the country’s territory killing two people, was still under investigation, so it was not clear yet whether the missile was fired and why.

“However, we can now clearly establish a causal link between the very significant increase in Russia’s shelling of military and, above all, civilian facilities, and this very recent incident on the Polish border,” Nausėda added.

According to him, Russia continues to deliberately choose the path of escalation of the conflict, to destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and to cause as many problems as possible for the Ukrainian population, such as leaving many people without electricity.

“There is no doubt that this is being done quite deliberately, on purpose, and that is why such actions may result in accidental incidents and possible missile deflections in the future,” Nausėda commented.

Kęstutis Budrys, Nausėda’s chief national security adviser, told LRT RADIO on Wednesday morning that the meeting would be held in the “State Defence Council-plus” format, with more ministers included in addition to the usual composition of the president-chaired body.

Apart from Nausėda, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, the speaker of the parliament, reportedly took part in the meeting at the Presidential Palace.

Čmilyte-Nielsen told LRT that this “is the first reaction of the institutions to the incident in Poland”, adding that more information would be made available after the meeting.

The meeting comes after Russian forces fired around 100 missiles into Ukraine on Tuesday, targeting energy infrastructure, according to Kyiv.

The attacks caused widespread blackouts in Ukraine, and neighbouring Moldova also reported massive power outages a result of the Russian strikes.

Poland confirmed in the early hours of Wednesday that one Russian missile had landed on its territory, killing two people.

Warsaw also said it was raising its level of military preparedness, but gave no further details.

Parliament speaker: this will change the course of war

Parliament Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, says that the missile that landed in Poland will affect the “course and outcome” of the war in Ukraine.

“The incident in Poland is clearly one of the events in Russia’s war against Ukraine that will affect the course and outcome of the war,” she posted on Facebook.

She stressed that all NATO allies are safe and are in constant consultation with each other.

“All the procedures that should have been activated in such a case have been activated,” the Seimas speaker stressed.

‘Together we stand’

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has spoken to his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau after the explosions in Poland on Tuesday evening and expressed support.

“Called [Zbigniew Rau] last night to reassure him that that Lithuania’s hearts are with Poland. Together we stand,” the minister wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Poland increased its military readiness after a missile landed on Polish territory near the border with Ukraine on Tuesday.