What were the top stories in Europe this week?

What were the top stories in Europe this week?

State of the Union is our weekly show from Brussels that brings you the top stories of the week.

This week, Russia inflicted a huge barrage of missile strikes on cities across Ukraine - again.

But it was a lone rocket that landed in Poland which provoked a diplomatic storm.

The missile hit a village right behind the Ukrainian border, killing two people and spreading fear into Ukraine's western neighbours. Western and Polish officials pointed to a Ukrainian air defence system being responsible.

"Several hundred rockets from the Ukrainian side tried to shoot down these hundred rockets, drones flying from the Russian side, it could have happened that one of these rockets fell on Polish territory, 5.6 km from the Ukrainian border," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Wednesday.

Following the incident, the Polish government instructed the military to increase the level of combat readiness of key units, reiterating its support for Ukraine.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also exonerated Ukraine.

"But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility, as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine," he said in Brussels on Wednesday.

The missile incident sparked fears that a wider conflict between NATO and Russia could erupt, especially in countries in eastern Europe where anti-Russian feelings run high.

MH17 sentences in absentia

In a reminder of what came before the now wider war in Ukraine, two Russians and a Ukrainian were sentenced to life in prison for causing the MH17 crash above the Ukrainian region of Donetsk in 2014, killing all 298 on board.

The Hague District Court decided on Thursday that Russians Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were found responsible for the disaster, which happened during the earlier conflict in Ukraine's east that started eight years ago after Russian-back separatists declared independence from the country.

The court declared that Girkin, Dubinskiy and Kharchenko must also compensate the relatives of the victims a total of €60 million.

The four on trial were not present in the courtroom, all still at large and refusing to attend the trial, which lasted for nearly three years.

Girkin, Dubinskiy, and Kharchenko are unlikely to ever serve their sentences.

Nord Stream sabotage confirmed

The explosions that caused significant damage to the Nord Stream pipelines near the Danish island of Bornholm in late September were the result of "gross sabotage," Swedish prosecutors confirmed on Friday.

"Analyses that have now been carried out show traces of explosives on several of the foreign objects that were found," public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is in charge of the ongoing preliminary investigation into the explosions, said in a statement.

There are no indications of who is to blame for the incident at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.

"The preliminary investigation is very complex and extensive. The continued preliminary investigation must show whether anyone can be served with suspicion of a crime," the statement said.

Swedish investigators will continue to cooperate with domestic authorities and other countries. The prosecutor's office has asked for patience.

"It is important that we can work in peace and quiet," Ljungqvist said, adding he could not provide further information and would not be available to the press.

On 27 September, undersea blasts ruptured both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, leading to huge methane leaks.

Although allegations of possible sabotage have circulated since the incident, this marks the first time a deliberate act to cause damage to the pipeline has been confirmed.