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A Russian-made missile explodes in Poland — killing 2 people

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Russia pummeled Ukraine with nearly 100 missile strikes yesterday. During that bombardment, an explosion in Poland, just miles from its border with Ukraine, killed two people. Poland's president Andrzej Duda said it was probably not an act of aggression. President Biden, in Indonesia for the G-20 summit, also told reporters the U.S. and its NATO allies are still trying to get answers.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's unlikely in the lines of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia.

FADEL: NPR's Emily Feng is in Bali, Indonesia, where Biden attended the G-20 summit, and she joins us now.

Good morning, Emily.

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: Hey, good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So let's get into this. What do we know about this explosion in Poland at this point?

FENG: So it happened late night in an eastern Polish village just a couple of miles from Poland's border with Ukraine. And the initial fear, of course, was that this had come from Russia. Now, there have been dozens of Russian missiles fired at major Ukrainian cities this week, and Ukrainians has been stepping up their air defense systems to protect their own people. But every so often, these defenses can deflect a Russian missile, so it causes them - or the debris from them - to land somewhere unexpected. But again, the idea that this could be a Ukrainian-fired missile is just an initial assessment. And the NATO security alliance, the U.S. - they've all said they support Poland in doing a more thorough investigation first.

FADEL: So it sounds like NATO leaders, including what we heard from Biden, are really treating this explosion with extreme caution over concern that this could expand the war in Ukraine beyond the Ukrainian borders. What have Poland, Ukraine, Russia said about the explosion?

FENG: Ukraine's president was quick to blame Russia. He called the explosion a major escalation. Earlier Tuesday, Ukraine was hit by nearly 100 Russian missile strikes, which have killed even more ordinary people. Russia, however, outright denied firing the missile that hit the Polish village. They've called that allegation a, quote, "intentional provocation with the goal of escalating the situation." Now, Biden and the NATO secretary general each called Poland's president today to assure him that he has the full weight of NATO behind him. But at this point, it's just not clear this was an intentional attack on a NATO country. And so there needs to be more investigation done first.

FADEL: Now, this happened in the middle of the G-20 summit, which has been contentious in part because of the war in Ukraine, right?

FENG: Yes. Biden and other countries in the G-7 group today held this emergency roundtable because they conveniently were all in Indonesia for the G-20 summit. They reiterated their support for Ukraine and for Poland. But other countries here at the G-20, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, have been really split over whether to formally condemn Russia.

FADEL: OK.

FENG: And that's been frustrating for Biden, especially with Russian missile attacks coming into Ukraine Tuesday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: And the moment when the world had come together at the G-20 to urge de-escalation, Russia continues to - chose to escalate in Ukraine while we're meeting.

FENG: A meeting where countries went in trying to agree on what to do about the war in Ukraine and the suffering its caused - but they likely won't come out of it with a complete agreement on what to do. And now we have this latest twist in Poland.

FADEL: Yeah. NPR's Emily Feng, thank you so much.

FENG: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Emily Feng is NPR's Beijing correspondent.