Ukraine’s supporters also accused Russia of trying to increase energy and other costs for European countries dependent on Russian supplies, hoping to stir up public fatigue over the war and reduce political support for sanctions against Russia and continued military aid to Ukraine.
Although US officials took pains to downplay any disagreement, there were clear signs that Ukraine was furious with its allies’ public stance. The tension comes as Kyiv also backtracked on suggestions from Washington that now might be a good time to consider sitting down to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moscow has sought to exploit divisions between Ukraine and its supporters.
In the fog of war, many Western officials initially speculated on Tuesday that the missile may have been launched by Russia, an assumption that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized as “another hysterical, frenzied reaction to Russophobia, which was not based on any real data.”
When U.S., Polish, and other intelligence and military officials began investigating, the Biden administration said little in public, initially deferring to Polish President Andrzej Duda. Ultimately, he said, what hit his country was likely a “Russian-made” S-300, a Soviet-era surface-to-air missile owned by both Russia and Ukraine.
By Wednesday morning, when Biden issued his first public remarks after meeting urgently on the matter with G7 and NATO leaders, he said it was “unlikely, in the minds of the track, that it was launched from Russia,” drawing rare praise. from the Kremlin.
Peskov said: “It is worth paying attention to the conservative and more professional reaction from the American side and the American president.”
And despite Poland acknowledging Wednesday that the missile was likely Ukrainian, Russia summoned the Polish ambassador in Moscow to the Foreign Ministry to get dressed, likely because Poland did not point the finger at Ukraine ahead of time.
“I was one step away from disaster just because you are [the Ukrainians] “I dragged you into this in a disgusting way,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.
As the United States and its allies worked to cover up any division that could play into Moscow’s favour, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukraine’s top diplomat on Wednesday to “pass on information” about what the United States learned about the strike, the State Department said. .
By Thursday, Kyiv appeared to be softening its stance.
Zelensky said that a team of Ukrainian specialists will take part in the investigation at the site of the explosion, and noted that only after the investigation will it be possible to draw final conclusions.
“I don’t know what happened. We don’t know for sure. The world doesn’t know,” Zelensky said while answering questions at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. “I’m sure it’s a Russian missile, I’m sure it was launched from air defense systems. But it’s impossible to talk. about something specific today.”
Russia’s previous efforts to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its Western partners had failed, said Andrew S. Weiss, a former White House and State Department official now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and he expected it to fail again.
“War is very dynamic, volatile and unpredictable and bad things happen in wars by their very nature. It doesn’t seem to me likely that this will become a meaningful source of contention,” said Weiss, whose book “The Accidental Tsar: The Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin” was published this month.