Dec 29 (Reuters) – Belarus protested on Thursday Ukraine’s ambassador to Ukraine after it shot down a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile in a field in one of Russia’s biggest airstrikes against Ukraine since the war began in February.
Brest region’s military commissar, Oleg Konovalov, said in a video posted on social media by the state-run Belda news agency that local residents had “nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, these things happen.”
He drew comparisons to an incident in November when an S-300, believed to have strayed after being shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces, landed on the border of NATO-member Poland.
Nevertheless, the Ukrainian ambassador was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Minsk to receive a formal protest.
“The Belarusian side takes this incident very seriously,” said spokesman Anatoly Klass.
“We demanded that the Ukrainian side conduct a thorough investigation, … consider those responsible and take comprehensive measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future.”
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it was ready to invite official experts from countries that do not support “Russia’s state of terror” to participate in the investigation of the incident that resulted in the repelling of a “barbaric” Russian missile attack. Public targets.
“The Ukrainian side has the unconditional right to defend and protect its own airspace, while at the same time it is ready to conduct an objective investigation in Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said it did not rule out “deliberate provocation” when Russia fired its cruise missiles into Belarusian territory.
A Ukrainian military spokesman admitted the missile was a Ukrainian mistake, saying the incident was “nothing strange, the result of air defense” and “happened more than once”.
The S-300 is a Soviet-era air defense system used by both Russia and Ukraine.
Belarus said the missile landed around 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) near the village of Harbacha in the Brest region, about 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Ukraine.
“Fragments found in an agricultural field … belong to an S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile launched from the territory of Ukraine,” the Belarusian Defense Ministry said.
The missile misses came as Russia launched its latest missile strikes on cities across Ukraine, which the Defense Ministry said destroyed 18 residential buildings and 10 critical infrastructure targets in 10 regions.
Belda released photos and video of what it said were parts of an S-300 missile lying in an empty field.
Belarus allowed Moscow to use its territory in February to launch an invasion of Ukraine, and Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus has been escalating in recent months.
However, Minsk has insisted that it is not taking part in the war and will not do so unless its own security is threatened by Ukraine or Ukraine’s Western allies.
Reported by Reuters; Written by Jake Cordell; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Emilia Sithole-Madareis and Grant McCool
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