By Daphne Psaledakis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and its allies on Wednesday criticized Russia in the United Nations Security Council over missile attacks on Ukraine in a meeting a day after a missile that NATO said was a stray fired by Ukraine’s air defenses crashed inside Poland.
Military alliance NATO and member Poland said the missile was probably a stray fired by Ukraine’s air defenses and not a Russian strike, easing international fears that the war could widen. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy demurred, saying there was no doubt the missile was not Ukrainian.
Two people were killed by the missile in a Polish village near the Ukraine-Poland border on Tuesday, the same day Russia fired scores of missiles at cities across Ukraine, targeting its energy grid and worsening power blackouts for millions. The Kyiv government said it was the most intense barrage of the nine-month-long war.
“This tragedy would never have happened but for Russia’s needless invasion of Ukraine and its recent missile assaults against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure,” Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the Security Council.
“Ukraine has every right to defend itself against this barrage,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
The British and Polish ambassadors to the U.N. echoed the statement that Russia’s invasion was ultimately to blame for the explosion in Poland.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the meeting: “We have long ago stopped being surprised by your attempts in any circumstances, in spite of facts or common sense, to blame Russia for everything.”
Members of the Security Council at the meeting also called for Russia to extend the Black Sea grains deal, which is set to roll over on Saturday unless there are objections.
Moscow suspended its participation in the agreement in late October but rejoined after four days, easing fears of further disruptions to grain exports from one of the world’s biggest suppliers at a time of rampant global food inflation and food shortages.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; editing by Grant McCool)