Blinken denies the missile incident shows cracks in communications with Ukraine | Wbactive


BANGKOK — Foreign Minister Antony Blinken on Thursday denied that this week’s deadly rocket blast in Poland and subsequent disagreements over the rocket’s origin revealed a lack of communication and coordination with Ukraine, following conflicting statements between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Western leaders.

“We have been in regular contact with our Ukrainian partners throughout. I spoke to my Ukrainian counterpart. … We are sharing the information we have and the investigation is ongoing,” Blinken told reporters during a news conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Thailand.

The top US diplomat ignored a question as to whether the incident raised doubts about the credibility of Zelensky’s claims. Instead, Blinken accused Moscow of putting immense pressure on its smaller neighbor, which this week made renewed efforts to intercept waves of Russian missiles targeting civilian installations across the country. Western officials believe it was a misguided Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that crossed the border and landed in Poland on Tuesday, killing two people.

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Zelenskyi rambles on about his claim that the explosion must have been caused by a Russian projectile. He said earlier this week he had “no doubt it wasn’t our missile,” forcing senior US and NATO officials to make a rare public break with the Ukrainian leader — a dramatic departure from their grueling efforts to keep the daylight between to minimize them and Zelenskyy to show a united front against Russia.

“Russia is responsible for what happened,” said Blinken. “What we see every day now is Russia raining missiles on Ukraine, trying to destroy her critical infrastructure and targeting Ukraine’s ability to keep the lights on, keep the heat going so the country can just live can and move forward,” he said.

Zelenskyy backtracked on Thursday, telling an audience at an economic forum: “I don’t know 100 percent — I don’t think the world knows 100 percent either.”

Biden denies Zelenskyy claims about Polish missile

When President Biden was asked hours earlier about Zelenskyy’s claims, he said he disagreed with his assessment, saying “that’s not evidence.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also said there was “no evidence” that the missile attack did result of an attack by Russia.

US officials said they were simply acting on the best judgment of their intelligence agencies. including information showing the blast came from at least one or as many as two Ukrainian SA-10 surface-to-air missiles that went off course, said a person familiar with new intelligence reports.

Two senior US government officials they said would not dispute the characterization of the intelligence agencies linking Ukrainian missiles to the blast. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters

Instead of focusing on US differences with Zelenskyy’s remarks, Blinken vowed to send more military aid to help Ukraine repel Russian missile attacks.

“Ukraine has the right to defend itself and we pledge to support Ukraine in any effort,” he said.

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Ukrainian officials hope the missile incident will revive efforts in the West to deploy sophisticated missile defense systems.

Ukraine’s SA-10 missiles, which US intelligence believes were involved in the blast, are older and less reliable than the newer anti-aircraft missiles Kyiv received from the west; these intercepted dozens of incoming Russian missiles. For example, the US-supplied NASAMS are higher quality ground-launched missile defense systems.

If Ukraine accidentally fired an SA-10 missile deep into Polish territory, this wouldn’t be the first instance of a Soviet-era missile missing its target. Syrian anti-aircraft missiles, for example, have gone off course in the past and landed in northern Jordan or rural Lebanon.

Blinken made his remarks on the second day of his meetings in Bangkok for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), where leaders hope to work together on a range of issues, including the coronavirus response, the full resumption of international travel and the ongoing supply chain problems.

Biden skips forum to attend granddaughter’s wedding In his stead, Blinken and Vice President Harris deliver remarks and hold bilateral meetings aimed at strengthening the United States’ economic integration into the Asia-Pacific region — a region that accounts for about two-thirds of global economic activity.

Blinken said “what we do now” will determine the future of freedom and prosperity in the region and “shape the path of the 21st century”.

Blinken was joined at the forum by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who told reporters Thursday that the United States is trying to use trade policy to empower women and entrepreneurs and “to unlock economic opportunities for underrepresented segments of our population.”

Harris is set to address Friday’s APEC CEO Summit where she will lay out the Biden administration’s economic agenda for Asia-Pacific.

“The central message of their comments will be that the United States has an enduring economic commitment to the Indo-Pacific and there is no better partner for Indo-Pacific economies and businesses than the United States of America,” a senior administration official said ahead of the Trip.

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