Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20) largest economies issued a declaration at the recent summit in Bali, Indonesia, in which “[m]ost members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine” and the “immense human suffering it has caused.”
China, which had declared a “no-limits” partnership with Russia prior to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, notably did not block the statement.
Amid the summit, the world’s attention turned to the Ukraine border when a missile exploded near the Polish village of Przewodow, killing two people. Could a Russian strike on Poland, a NATO member, bring the U.S. and allies into the war?
At issue was Article 5 in the charter of the 30-member NATO alliance. That provision says an attack on one member is considered an attack on all.
With that chilling prospect looming, Li Jingjing, a journalist at China’s state-run CGTN, posted a video on YouTube Shorts describing the G-20 in skit form.
Li portrayed the mood of different countries using theatrical facial expressions and captions. But at one point, she insinuated that the U.S. hadn’t been forthcoming about the missile strike on Poland.
Role-playing as both President Joe Biden and questioner, she said:
Journalist: “Mr. President [Biden]. Can you tell us anything about the recent missile strike in Poland?”
Trouble is, the idea that Biden stonewalled the press is false.
Initial reports from Ukraine said the missile strike appeared to be from Russia. That day, November 15, Russian forces had sent scores of missiles at targets across Ukraine.
Following news of the Polish explosion, Biden convened an emergency meeting with Group of Seven and NATO leaders in Bali. And he later had the following exchange with a reporter:
Question: “Mr. President, is it too early to say whether this missile was fired from Russia?”
Biden: “There is preliminary information that contests that. I don’t want to say that until we completely investigate. But it is – I – it’s unlikely, in the minds of the trajectory, that it was fired from Russia. But we’ll see. We’ll see.”
Question: “Mr. President, has Poland suggested invoking Article 4 or 5 from NATO, sir?”
Biden: “The consensus is we’re going to probably have a meeting of the – of the – of the ambassadors. So that’s – it looks like we’re going to go do next.”
On November 16, U.S. officials told the Associated Press their initial findings suggested the missile that struck Poland was fired by Ukrainian forces defending themselves from an incoming Russian missile.
NATO shared that assessment but was quick to state it was not Ukraine’s fault.
“Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, reaffirming Ukraine’s right to self-defense.
Polish authorities and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also assessed the missile was of Ukrainian origin.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy disputed that it was fired by Ukraine.
“I have no doubt, it was not our missile, and not our missile strike,” Zelensky said.
When a reporter asked Biden about Zelenskyy’s comments, Biden replied: “That’s not the evidence.”
NBC news described the “public split” over the incident as potentially the “most significant rift so far between Ukraine and its supporters.”
For its part, Russia denied targeting Poland, but it has continued to rain missiles down at civilian infrastructure targets throughout Ukraine in a strategy that Western politicians say amounts to a war crime.