Videos of a huge fireball erupting near St. Petersburg in Russia have circulated on social media early Saturday morning.
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis shared a video posted by Julia Davis, creator of the Russia Media Monitor, showing a huge blaze and smoke with some cars parked nearby.
“There go those careless smokers again,” the ex-admiral wrote.
Davis posted other brief clips showing different angles of the fireball, which she said happened in the city of Murino. Meanwhile, Twitter user @adagamov also shared a video of the fire, tweeting that it was caused by a “strong explosion on the main gas pipeline.”
No officially confirmed information was revealed about the cause of the blaze or whether it was related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the Euro Weekly News reported that an explosion at a gas station happened Saturday afternoon local time.
The New York Post also reported on the fireball, saying it was caused by an explosion at a gas pipeline.
Local authorities, cited by the Euro Weekly News, said that the cause of the explosion “are being established” and added that “there is no threat to the population.”
Reports of the massive fire come a few days after a Russian-made missile landed in Przewodówon, a town in Poland, killing two people. The missile strike is the first incident from the Russian war in Ukraine, which began in late February, that directly impacted a NATO member.
The incident came amid a barrage of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine. However, it was unclear who fired the missile or where it was launched from.
Poland said that the missile landed near its border with Ukraine, but a U.S. intelligence briefing suggested that the strike resulted from a partial intercept of a Russian missile by a Ukrainian air defense system.
Three anonymous U.S. officials told the Associated Press that preliminary assessments suggested the missile was fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile during a wave of missile attacks on western Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the missile strike “a very significant escalation,” and said during a TV address that he has “no doubt that it was not our missile.” Meanwhile, Russia has denied any connection to the fatal incident.
While this was not a targeted attack on Poland, Article 5 of NATO’s charter states that an attack on one of the bloc’s 30 members is considered an attack on all. This raises concerns about a possible escalation of the war in Ukraine, but Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted that the incident appeared to be an “unfortunate accident” instead of an “intentional attack.”
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, said in a statement: “An investigation into this incident is ongoing, and we need to await its outcome. But we have no indication that this was the result of a deliberate attack. And we have no indication that Russia is preparing offensive military actions against NATO.”
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