US Secretary of Defense blames Putin’s war as cause of explosion in Poland
“The tragic and disturbing explosion in Poland this week has reminded the world of the recklessness of Putin’s war of choice,” Austin said.
On Tuesday, two workers were killed when a projectile hit the grain drying facility near the Polish-Ukrainian border. While the source of the missile is under investigation, NATO officials said they suspect it was fired from a Ukrainian missile battery.
Polish, NATO and US officials blamed the death on Russia anyway, saying a Ukrainian missile would not have missed if the country had not been forced to defend itself against heavy Russian attacks that day.
Russian officials framed the conflict as a fight against NATO – although Ukraine is not a NATO member even though it has received help from NATO member states.
Austin said NATO is a defensive alliance and poses no threat to Russia.
“Make no mistake: we will not be drawn into Putin’s war of choice. But we will stand by Ukraine as it fights to defend itself. And we will defend every inch of NATO territory,” Austin said.
A Polish investigation to determine the origin of the missile and the circumstances of the explosion has been launched with the support of American and Ukrainian investigators who joined the investigation on Friday.
Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the President of Ukraine, said in a live interview at the forum that “it is not fair to say that this is a Ukrainian rocket or a rocket Russian before the end of the investigation”.
Austin called Putin’s invasion the worst security crisis since the end of World War II and said the outcome “will help determine the course of global security in this young century,” Austin said.
“Stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic are at stake. The United States’ trading relationship with the European Union is the largest in the world. So when an aggressor manufactures a huge security crisis in Europe, it hits ordinary Americans and Canadians. »
Austin said the United States had deployed or expanded more than 20,000 additional American forces in Europe since late February, bringing the total to more than 100,000 American military personnel across Europe.
“Russia is not just waging a war of aggression. It also deliberately attacks civilian targets and civilian infrastructure – targets without any military purpose. Now, it’s not just failures. These are not exceptions to the rule. These are atrocities,” Austin said.
He added that war “shows the whole world the dangers of disorder. This is the security challenge we face. It is urgent, and it is historic.
But we will answer it…the basic tenets of democracy are under siege around the world,” he said.
He dismissed Putin’s claims that “modern Ukraine was created entirely by Russia”, calling it a vision of “a world in which autocrats decide which countries are real and which countries can be suffocated”.
He drew a comparison to China’s growing military activities in the Taiwan Strait.
“Beijing, like Moscow, seeks a world where might is good, where differences are resolved by force, and where autocrats can snuff out the flame of freedom,” he said.
Now in its 14th year, approximately 300 people gather each year at the Halifax International Security Forum held at the Westin Hotel in Halifax, where approximately 13 Ukrainian refugees are currently working.