Missile kills two people in Poland: here’s what we know so far

On the evening of November 15, 2022, a missile fell onto a grain silo in the village of Przewodow in Poland, 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Ukraine’s border. The explosion killed two people. 

The event triggered an urgent meeting of the Polish government, upon which President Andrzej Duda said it was most likely an “isolated” incident. 

“At this time, we have no unequivocal proof of who launched this missile,” Duda told reporters. “An investigation is underway. It was most likely Russian-made.”  

Currently attending the G20 summit in Bali, the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Italy, and the European Union also convened in the evening to discuss the incident. 

Following the meeting, US president Joe Biden said that based on its trajectory, the missile was unlikely to have been fired from Russia. 

“There is preliminary information that contests that,” Biden said. “I don’t want to say that until we completely investigate.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia in an official address. 

“Today, Russian missiles hit Poland, the territory of our friendly country,” Zelenskyy said. “Please accept condolences from all Ukrainian brothers.” 

In return, the Kremlin said these accusations were a provocation in an attempt to escalate the conflict. 

“We want to emphasize that the high-precision strikes were carried out only on targets located in Ukrainian territory and at a maximum distance of 35 kilometers from the Ukrainian-Polish border,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement. 

Not deliberate

After meeting with fellow NATO members on November 16, 2022, Duda gave more details on the incident.

“Yesterday, countering Russia’s massive missile attack on Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian forces fired missiles to shoot down Russian missiles,” the Polish president said. ”There are many indications that one fell on Polish territory, without any intention of either party.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also stated that there was so far no indication that the incident was a “deliberate attack” by either side.

“An investigation is ongoing, and we need to await its outcome, but we have no indication that this was an assault or a deliberate attack,” Stoltenberg said, adding “this is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears the ultimate responsibility as it continues its war against Ukraine.”

On November 16, 2022, the Swedish government announced it would assist Ukraine with a new military and humanitarian aid package that would include an air defense system with accompanying ammunition.   

The Swedish Armed Forces has one Air Defense Regiment operating the Swedish RBS 70 man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) as well as several US-made MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile systems.   

 

Russian attack or Ukrainian defense? 

Hours before the incident took place, Russia began one of its most intense bombing campaigns since the beginning of the war, with nearly a hundred missiles being fired at Ukrainian cities, targeting energy infrastructure and residential buildings. Several of these missiles were intercepted by Ukrainian air defense systems. 

Thus, one hypothesis could be that the missile that hit Przewodow was not a Russian strike but an anti-ballistic missile from Ukraine. The commonality in equipment between the two warring nations adds to the mystery. For example, both Russia and Ukraine operate the Soviet-made S-300 missile system. 

It would not be the first time that the interception of a Russian missile has had consequences for a neighboring country. On October 31, 2022, debris from a Russian missile targeted at Ukraine fell on the Moldovan village of Naslavcea after it was intercepted by Ukrainian air defense. Local residents reported damage to their roofs and windows, but no injuries.  

 

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