Recent Speculations on a Polish Missile Strike and its Connections to the War in Ukraine
Elizabeth O'Connell | Nov 21, 2022
A missile strike killing two farmers occurred on Tuesday, November 15, in Przewodów, a village in the Dolhobyczow district of South-Eastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. The blast incited world-wide fear that the War in Ukraine could expand into neighboring countries, a fear that the people of Poland have been feeling since the war’s start, as Grzegorz Drewnik, the mayor of Dolhobyczow described: "Everyone has in the back of the head that we are right near the border and that an armed conflict with Russia would expose us directly."
As Russia attempts to regain geographical power over Ukraine, the question arises of exactly how far Putin intends to exert his power through Europe. NATO has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, causing Poland to have a particularly unstable relationship with Russia due to being both a member of NATO and a former Soviet country. Therefore, Poland is at a critical and delicate spot to witness the war.
Poland quickly identified the missile as an old S-300 rocket, a Soviet-era type of missile that is “intended to shoot down aircraft, drones, and incoming cruise and ballistic missiles,” furthering concerns of a Russian invasion into the country. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to these concerns in defense, saying to reporters that “We have witnessed another hysterical, frenzied Russophobic reaction, which was not based on any real data.”
Despite condemning Russia’s attacks and showing support to Ukraine, leaders such as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Biden, and Polish President Andrzej Duda have all since released statements declaring that they believe the missile actually came from Ukraine, though unintentionally. Upon further investigation, S-300 rockets are used by Ukraine and various other countries in addition to Russia. Stoltenberg, after meeting with NATO ambassadors to address the explosion, declared that there is no evidence indicating an intentional attack on Poland, and the missile was likely an air defense missile intended to defend Ukraine from Russian attacks. The NATO Secretary General emphasized Russia’s fault, asserting that “this is not Ukraine's fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine." President Biden affirmed that the explosion was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile in a statement to G7 and NATO partners. President Duda, too, made remarks in agreement, stressing the unintentional nature of the missile: “There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to suggest that it was an intentional attack on Poland.”
Though no blame was placed on Ukraine through these statements, only accountability, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy responded defensively through declining to accept responsibility until more evidence has been found, stating, “If, God forbid, some remnant (of Ukraine’s air-defenses) killed a person, these people, then we need to apologize. But first there needs to be a probe, access — we want to get the data you have.”
Under any circumstances, the missile strike in Przewodow has emphasized the dangers of global war and caused additional stress to the relations between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO. As United Nations political chief Rosemary DiCarlo described to the U.N. Security Council, the missile strike was “a frightening reminder” of how necessary it is to contain any additional escalation of the war in Ukraine.