Attack on UkraineSpeeches

James Cleverly – 2022 Statement on the Missile Incident in Poland

The statement made by James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 16 November 2022.

With your permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will make a statement about the missile strike in Poland overnight.

At approximately 7 pm local time last night, there were missile explosions in a village in eastern Poland, approximately four miles from the border with Ukraine, killing two civilians and wounding four, during an extended Russian bombardment of Ukrainian territory.

As soon as I received the report, I contacted my Polish counterpart to express the sympathy and solidarity of the United Kingdom—I am sure the whole House will share that sentiment—and to offer our practical support. I then spoke to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in a trilateral call with my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary, while the Prime Minister was attending the G20 summit in Indonesia.

The Prime Minister immediately called President Duda of Poland to convey the UK’s condolences for the tragic loss of civilian life and to assure him of our unwavering support to a steadfast NATO ally. My right hon. Friend then spoke to President Zelensky about the latest situation and also attended an ad hoc meeting of G7 leaders called by President Biden to discuss the evolving situation.

This morning, I spoke to the Polish Foreign Minister and I commended Poland’s decisive, determined, but calm and professional response to the situation. It is wise to advise the House that, at this point, the full details of the incident are not complete, but, earlier today, Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary-General, said there was

“no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack”.

He added that the incident was

“likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks.”

Poland will lead the investigation to establish exactly what happened, and the UK stands ready to provide any practical or technical assistance. In the meantime, we will not rush to judgment; our response will always be led by the facts.

The House should be in no doubt that the only reason why missiles are flying through European skies and exploding in European villages is Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Secretary-General Stoltenberg was absolutely right when he said today that what occurred in Poland is “not Ukraine’s fault” and that “Russia bears ultimate responsibility”.

Yesterday, Putin launched one of the heaviest attacks since the war began, firing wave upon wave of more than 80 missiles at Ukrainian cities, obliterating the homes of ordinary families, destroying critical national infrastructure and depriving millions of Ukrainians of power and heat just as the winter sets in. This brutal air campaign is Putin’s revenge for Ukraine’s successes on the battlefield, where Russian forces have been expelled from thousands of square miles of territory. Now he is trying to terrorise the people of Ukraine and break their will by leaving them shivering in cold and darkness. I have no doubt that he will be unsuccessful in that endeavour, but this is why Britain is helping Ukraine to strengthen its air defences, and we have provided more than 1,000 surface-to-air missiles thus far. I know that the House will be united in our support for Ukraine’s right to defend her territory and her people.

On Monday, I signed a memorandum of understanding as part of our £10 million commitment to help Ukraine rebuild its critical energy infrastructure. The tragic incident in Poland last night is ultimately the result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. That is the only reason why it has happened, and it would not have happened otherwise. That is why the UK and our allies stand in solidarity with Poland, and that is why we are determined to support the people of Ukraine until they prevail and their country is once again free. Madam Deputy Speaker, I commend this statement to the House.