Zelenskiy Softens Stance on Rocket Origin After Biden Comment ~ Nov. 17, 2022

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Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks through a screen during a virtual interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, on Nov. 17. © Bloomberg

Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his military officials had told him that images of the crater at the blast site suggested it couldn’t have been caused solely by the remnants of a Ukrainian anti-air rocket. 

He said he “was sure that it was a Russian missile” but also that he was certain Ukraine had launched weapons to defend against a Russian barrage. Ukraine shot down more than 70 of the almost 100 rockets that Moscow fired on Tuesday, according to Ukrainian officials.

“I don’t know 100% — I think the world also doesn’t 100% know what happened,” Zelenskiy said in an interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Thursday. “We can’t say specifically that this was the air defense of Ukraine.”

The incident, which killed two men at a farm 6 kilometers (4 miles) inside Polish territory, was a sobering reminder of the risk Russia’s war against Ukraine could spill over the borders into a NATO member and potentially trigger an open conflict between nuclear-armed powers.

Biden was asked early Thursday about Zelenskiy’s previous denial that the blast was caused by a missile fired by Ukraine’s air defenses.

“That’s not the evidence,” Biden said, as he returned to the White House from the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. He didn’t elaborate.

Zelenskiy said Ukrainian investigators were going to the site in Poland to join the probe into the blast. Officials in Warsaw said they would present all of the evidence they had gathered to Kyiv.

“I’m sure that we’ll reach an agreement,” Polish deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szafernaker said.

While NATO officials and leaders of the alliance’s member states have said the blast probably wasn’t caused by a Russian missile, they have still squarely blamed the strike on Moscow, saying that it wouldn’t have happened if President Vladimir Putin’s military was not launching missile attacks against Ukraine.

“We are grateful for not being blamed because we are fighting against Russian missiles on our territory,” Zelenskiy said.

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